India: a junkyard?

Published: Saturday 04 July 2015

A HUGE quantity of hazardous asbestos is finding its way into India. But the Union government seems to be silent over the issue. The Union ministry of environment and forests (MEF) had prepared a notification to ban its import that was withheld later. Officials in the MEF say the notification had been prepared when it was felt that asbestos waste was being imported in the country, but was later withdrawn as the government felt asbestos waste was not being imported after all.

This is curious. Asbestos is used widely in India as a material for packaging and in housing projects. A report of the World Resources Institute, USA, shows that Brazil alone exports about 70,000 metric tonne of asbestos to India and some other developing countries. The fibre of asbestos waste is considered to be harmful as it can get into the lungs. Environmentalists say, despite laws and public protests against import of hazardous waste from industrialised countries, a huge quantity of waste is arriving in India. Under the Basel Convention, the trade of wastes from an Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) country to a non-OECD country is prohibited.

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