The Supreme Court on Thursday set a six-month deadline for removal and disposal of toxic waste of the the Union Carbide factory in Bhopal and asked the Centre and Madhya Pradesh government to do the job within the stipulated time frame.
"It is indisputable that huge toxic materials/waste is still lying in and around the factory. Its very existence is hazardous to health. It needs to be disposed of at the earliest and in a scientific manner.
"Thus, we direct the Centre and the state govt to take immediate steps for disposal of the toxic waste lying in and around the factory on the recommendations of Empowered Monitoring Committee, Advisory Committee and National Institute of Research in Environment Health within six months from today," a bench headed by Chief Justice S H Kapadia said.
The bench also hand over the task of monitoring the relief and rehabilitation work for Bhopal gas tragedy victim to the Madhya Pradesh high court.
"This PIL shall stand transferred to the jurisdictional bench of Madhya Pradesh High Court for better and effective control in this case. All applications filed henceforth shall be dealt with and disposed of by the concerned bench of the high court, in line with the various orders passed by this court, so as to ensure proper functioning of the 'Relief and Rehabilitation Programme', working of the expert bodies and utmost medical care and treatment to the gas victims," the bench said.
The apex court directed that the Union and the state government officials should meet within a month and finalise the scheme for disposal of the waste.
"The disposal should be strictly in a scientific manner which may cause no further damage to human health and environment in Bhopal. We direct a collective meeting of these organisations to be held along with the secretary to the government of India and the chief secretary of the state within one month from today to finalise the entire scheme of disposal of the toxic wastes," the bench said.
It also asked the state government to provide proper facilities to apex court-appointed monitoring and advisory committee to perform their task for the relief and rehabilitation of the victims.
"Since the space already provided appears to be insufficient, the state of Madhya Pradesh is hereby directed to ensure provision of proper and adequate office space for the Monitoring Committee and the Advisory Committee to perform their functions effectively. The space so provided should be accessible to public so that the gas victims can conveniently approach them for redressal of their grievances," the bench said.
"The Monitoring Committee has already been authorized and it is hereby clarified that it would hear the complaints and, if necessary, can even call for the records from the concerned hospital or department, record the statements of government servants or employees of the hospital and make its recommendations to the government for taking appropriate steps.
"If no action is taken by the state government even upon a reminder thereof, the Committee would be well within its jurisdiction to approach the high court for appropriate directions." the bench said.