India can't care about hazardous imports; the world must
the export of hazardous plastic waste to India has lately created an uproar in some European countries, but Indian authorities are alarmingly unconcerned. Though the import of hazardous waste is not illegal in the country, according to an October 2003 decision of the Supreme Court, it requires the prior permission of the Union ministry of environment and forests (moef) and respective state pollution control boards. But these risky shipments obviously don't have the moef's approval, as the ministry officials are simply clueless about their arrival or what happens to them after landing in India.
The court held mrl guilty of 12 offences and charged it with shipping waste to India in circumstances considered illegal traffic under European Council Regulation. "Environment agency officers had been carrying out surveillance on mrl that culminated with a call to go to Southampton Docks on November 3, 2003 to inspect a shipping container seized by Customs. Customs officers opened the container which was packed with what appeared to be waste plastic, some bailed, some loose and some on rolls," reads an agency note. Environment agency officers then raided mrl' s Taunton depot, where they found plastic waste similar to what was carried in the containers on the docks. "All exports of plastic waste, except a type known as pet, is allowed only in line with Red List Controls. This basically means these non- pet exports were illegal. We don't know what was happening to this plastic once it reached India, but the export of waste for disposal is strictly prohibited outside the uk. This is to prevent us from dumping our waste on developing nations. mrl breached uk, European and international legislation," says Andy King of the environment agency.
According to leading Danish newspaper Politiken, Denmark exports around 24,000 tonnes of plastic waste annually, of which 2,000 tonnes is pvc plastic, a suspected carcinogen. Its export is easy because the eu doesn't regard it as hazardous waste. About one fifth of Demark's plastic is collected by buyers in eu and exported to India, China, Hong Kong and other countries in the East.
We are a voice to you; you have been a support to us. Together we build journalism that is independent, credible and fearless. You can further help us by making a donation. This will mean a lot for our ability to bring you news, perspectives and analysis from the ground so that we can make change together.
Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.