M A I N   N E W S

Lethal scrap: Environment ministry asked to
prepare report
Ramesh Ramachandran
Tribune New Service

New Delhi, October 11
The Monitoring Committee set up by the Supreme Court to implement its order on hazardous waste has asked the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests to prepare a report on the recovery of explosives from metal scrap in western Uttar Pradesh and Delhi even as experts cite a long, recorded history of hazardous waste finding its way into the country and reiterate their demand for stricter regulations.

The Monitoring Committee was set up by the Supreme Court to map the progress in implementing the apex court’s October 14, 2003 order on hazardous waste. According to well-placed sources, the Monitoring Committee has asked the ministry to “build up documents” and make a presentation to the committee when it meets next. The committee will meet here on November 4.

The recovery of explosives from metal scrap in several parts of Delhi and elsewhere has been included in the agenda for that meeting. The sources said the report sought by the Monitoring Committee would be independent of the reports prepared by other agencies looking into the security related issues and to find out how shells and bombs found their way into the country from “war zones”.

The “remedial actions” being contemplated by the Monitoring Committee, the sources said, included tightening of the inspection of consignments by the Directorate of Customs. Acknowledging certain irregularities in imports, they told The Tribune that technology and manpower were among the outstanding issues besetting the Directorate of Customs.

“Going by past action, I expect that based on the documentation and presentation by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests, the Monitoring Committee would take suitable remedial actions,” said a source. Also on the agenda will be a review of the existing rules governing the import of hazardous wastes, which the sources said, warranted scrutiny given its long, recorded history.

Experts claim instances of waste oil imported in the name of lubricant oil, dumping of electronic-waste in the country and indiscriminate imports of lead acid battery waste. “As recently as June,” sources pointed out that “the import of garbage from Ireland in the garb of paper waste was detected and the consignment was stopped immediately”. In a similar case, the containers were sent back to the country of origin.

A New Delhi-based professional working in a non-government organisation asserts that India invites import of such waste in the name of re-use and recycling though there is a lack of environment-friendly technology to re-use and recycle hazardous waste. He went on to claim that ‘‘hazardous waste coming to our shores was a usual thing and stricter regulations were the need of the hour’’.

Meanwhile, even as the controversy surrounding the recovery of shells and bombs rages, the counsel arguing before the Supreme Court on implementation of hazardous waste rules has written to the member-secretary of the Monitoring Committee to seek a “high-level inquiry” and fixing of responsibility so that the officials guilty of certain lapses are suitably punished.

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