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Environment ministry seeks suggestions on global meets on hazardous waste, pollutants

LiveMint logoLiveMint 11-04-2017 Mayank Aggarwal

New Delhi: The environment ministry has sought comments and suggestions from stakeholders on three important international meetings that start in less than a fortnight where subjects like transboundary movement of hazardous waste, international trade of hazardous waste and long period pollutants will be discussed.

The meeting of the three international Conventions - Conferences of the Parties (CoP) to the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions - are starting on 24 April in Geneva and will continue till 5 May. The meetings will also feature a high-level segment on 4-5 May.

The theme of the meetings and the high-level segment this year is ‘A future detoxified: sound management of chemicals and waste’.

The Basel Convention on the control of transboundary movements of hazardous wastes and their disposal was adopted on 22 March 1989. Its main objective is to protect human health and the environment against the adverse effects of hazardous wastes that are explosive, flammable, poisonous, infectious, corrosive, toxic, or eco-toxic. India ratified it in June 1992 and since then it has been taking measures for the effective management of hazardous wastes.

Last year, the ministry of environment, forests and climate change (MoEFCC) notified the Hazardous and Other Wastes (Management & Transboundary Movement) Rules, 2016 to ensure the safe handling, processing, treatment, storage, collection, transportation, collection, and disposal of hazardous waste.

However, activists believe the implementation of these rules remains a problem.

“India was one of the key countries that supported adoption of a UN treaty to combat the export of toxic waste from technology and other products from industrialized societies to developing countries. It adopted and ratified Basel Convention but is yet to ratify the Ban Amendment to Basel Convention to ban trade of hazardous wastes,” said Gopal Krishna, director of NGO ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA).

“But over the years countries like US and Japan that were against the Basel Convention have succeeded in entering into bilateral agreements with developing countries wherein waste is being defined as non-new good or recyclable material to outwit the UN treaty. India should be wary of these countries because they promote free trade in hazardous waste, unmindful of human and environmental cost,” he explained.

Krishna said that, “India should ratify the Ban Amendment to give a message to the developed countries that they should keep their own waste, we enough of our own.”

The Rotterdam Convention is a multilateral environment agreement that provides obligations on the import and export of certain hazardous chemicals. India ratified it in 24 May 2005.

The Stockholm Convention deals with persistent organic pollutants (POPs). India ratified the convention in January 2006. Till date, 26 chemicals are listed as POPs under the Stockholm Convention but India, as of now, has only ratified only the 12 initially listed POPs. India has now prepared a national implementation plan and is also in the process for ratification of selected newly listed POPs.

“At Rotterdam convention, the critical issue is of including the White Chrysotile Asbestos in prior informed consent list of hazardous substances. But Indian government’s position on the subject has been inconsistent and is based on an irrelevant, unscientific and admittedly conflict of interest-ridden study under the influence of asbestos industry which has been making itself part of Indian delegation quite unethically,” Krishna said.

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