China inching towards POPs treaty ratification
even as the Indian government continues to dither over whether or not it should ratify the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (pops), China has taken a step forward in this direction. On June 8, officials of the country's State Environmental Protection Administration (sepa) revealed that an application for the ratification of the treaty had been submitted to the National People's Congress, the country's top legislature.
China is already working on a national plan to implement the convention, the China Daily newspaper quoted Wang Jirong, vice-minister of sepa, as saying. Wang was addressing a joint China- us workshop on the pops treaty. However, implementing the national plan under the pact is expected to be tough for China, which houses one of the world's leading chemical manufacturing industries. "Among the nine pesticides included in the convention's list, five were once mass-produced in China and four are still produced in some places," the daily reported. "The country should improve the policy, legal systems, management and risk assessment pertaining to pops," feels Yue Runsheng, a senior official with sepa's department of international cooperation.
Yue also points to the lack of professionals and funds in the country to develop techniques for substituting, treating and reducing pops. Another major task would be taking care of the several thousand tonnes of stockpiles of the pops. "We are not sure where such stockpiles are and, therefore, to spot them needs huge input," adds Yue. Officials of sepa's solid waste and chemicals division say the country would seek to tighten control over all chemicals, including pops. For this, many new measures are planned. These include the establishment of a national chemical and pesticide management system, achieving safe treatment of hazardous chemical wastes, and seeking more international financial and technical support for the purpose.
Meanwhile, the Indian industry continues to lobby hard against the country ratifying the convention, which came into force on May 17 this year. The Indian Chemical Manufacturers Association (icma), in its effort to protect its profits, has been strongly pressurising the Union ministry of environment and forests against endorsing the treaty (see: 'POPs goes the government', Down To Earth, June 15, 2004).
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