Interview: Ravi Aggarwal on different aspects of chemical regulation

By Arnab Pratim Dutta
Published: Monday 30 June 2008

-- ravi aggarwal, director of ngo Toxic Links, has recently been conferred the who/ifcs (Chemical Safety) Special Recognition Award. He talks to arnab pratim dutta on different aspects of chemical regulation

india: There is a hazardous waste law and a hazardous chemical law. But these don't cover how a chemical is used. Issues such as pollution prevention is only on paper. And now we are trying to replace the hazardous waste law with the hazardous material law--a problem because when you transport hazardous waste or material you are actually making it a commodity.

civil societies: Organizations such as the Centre for Science and Environment and Toxic Links have been trying to change policy at a national level, using empirical evidence. There are active groups from Bhopal too. But unlike Europe, lack of consumer awareness in India is a big problem. The Indian chemical industry continues to be the bad boy.

dedicated body: Lack of expertise is not the reason for lack of regulation in the country. People concerned are aware of hazards. There is no political will and expert bodies have dual interests. Pesticide registration for instance has seen so much abuse. The Indian Agriculture Research Institute's food contamination studies are never released. New grants for research projects now come from industry.

future: Growth could force the industry to change or the present situation may continue. The most vulnerable get affected because we do not have count of body-bags. We have no registries that are worth their name. The spread of the message hasn't been adequate. If you see the key research done in bio-sciences they acknowledge that environmental factors are key to internal health. who has acknowledged it by saying that almost 26 per cent of the diseases are because of environmental factors and chemicals play an important role.

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