Bad business

Trade of pollutants thrives in India, says a Greenpeace report

Published: Tuesday 15 December 1998

EVEN as international negotiations are on to eliminate the use of at least 12 persistent organic pollutants (POPS), India has emerged as their major user, producer and distributor. Moreover, countries such as Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, as well as India, are stuck with obsolete but potent stockpiles with no proper disposal facilities. Citizens, therefore, face the possibility of ingesting large quantities of such pollutants.

These are some of the findings of the Greenpeace report, 'Toxic Legacies: Poisoned Futures - POPS in Asia'. The three-month investigative effort in seven Asian countries has led the report to conclude that several restricted and even banned chemicals are manufactured, stored, used and traded freely in these countries. In Delhi, for instance, they found the chemical 'aldrin' in hardware stores, despite the fact that it's registration had been withdrawn more than two years ago.

The report states that no single government agency was able to provide a comprehensive picture of the status of POPS chemicals in India. It cites instances where chemicals such as DDT, purportedly from India, never reached their supposed destination - adding to the insidiousness that shrouds POPS.

"There has been an unmitigated expansion of dirty chlorine-based industries in the region," says Nityanand Jayaraman, a co-author of the report, adding that India, Mexico and China were the only three remaining producers of DDT, an organochlorine. Organochlorines are one of the 12 POPS that are on the international agenda for complete elimination.

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