IT HAPPENS ONLY IN INDIA,
GREAT JOB MR. PARMAR
it is good to eat as many as vegetables and fruits (totally vegetarian), but my aurvedic doctor asked me to stop eating every...
The ubiquitous lead acid storage battery permeates our lives -- cars, power back-up, industrial applications. It's not surprising that lead consumption by batteries accounts for 70-75 per cent of all lead used in India.
But what happens to batteries once they're over? What are the disposal norms? Are there environmental and health costs from unsafe disposal of lead into the atmosphere, or from lead recycling through unscientific methods?
These issues are critical as over-exposure to lead can result in kidney damage, nervous system disorders and affect the reproductive system. As lead enters the body through air or water, unsafe disposal of lead into the atmosphere and unsafe recycling of lead cannot be ignored.
Lead comes from primary sources like ore and imports; and secondary sources like recycled lead scrap, basically from used lead acid batteries. According to the Tenth Five Year Plan, 65 per cent of India's lead demand is met from primary sources, but this doesn't take into account the huge supply of lead derived from assembled or reconditioned batteries and from backyard and small smelters. Half the secondary lead comes from smelters with clearance from the Union ministry of environment and forests (moef) and the other half from smelters operating illegally. As India has poor primary lead resources, dependence on imports and indigenous secondary lead is only likely to increase. Whether lead is imported or locally recycled, would depend on the price and quality of lead from these two sources.
And this situation exists despite all the regulations being in place. The Batteries Management and Handling Rules, 2001 -- notified to regulate used lead acid batteries and their return to authorised recycling facilities -- clearly state that consumers must return used batteries to authorised traders/manufacturers or to collection centres. They also specify that manufacturers, assemblers, importers and re-conditioners are responsible for collecting and transporting used batteries to registered recyclers. Even the auction of used batteries is permitted only in favour of registered recyclers. Similarly, the onus for implementation is on state pollution control boards who have to file annual compliance status reports to the Central Pollution Control Board (cpcb). In turn, the cpcb has to review compliance periodically and apprise the moef. The action plan for the moef or an agency designated by it includes developing a computerised tracking system for the distribution and sale of lead batteries and the transport and reprocessing of used batteries, as well as of re-processed lead by registered recyclers. Reprocessing units are also required to register with the moef and to follow a prescribed code for environmentally sound management of lead batteries and possess facilities for proper disposal of water.
Instead, incentives could be given to encourage the voluntary return of scrap. For a start, smelters in the formal sector should be more competitive. Lower excise duty on production of secondary lead by organised smelters and an environment cess on sales of scrap batteries in auctions would also help. Such measures may not be an option to legislative action, but will certainly facilitate better implementation of the existing regulations on the ground.
Rita Pandey is a Senior Fellow with the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy, New Delhi