Slipping through

  • 14/10/2002

Slipping through too little, too late. Four words that pithily describe steps taken by the authorities to plug hazardous waste oil imports in a case involving several Indian companies. For, it is after two years that the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (mpcb) has filed a petition against 11 firms which shipped hazardous waste oil into the country on the sly during August and September in 2000. Worse still, environmentalists are sceptical of an expeditious outcome since the matter has not been linked to the ongoing hazardous waste case in the Supreme Court (sc). That this is not an isolated incident is indicative of the magnitude of the problem.

The toxic waste imports issue surfaced only after 1995 when a New Delhi-based non-governmental organisation, Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Natural Resource Policy, filed a public interest petition in the sc. In a landmark ruling in 1997, the court ordered that “…no authorisation/permission would be given to any authority for the import … banned by the Central government or by any order made by any court or any other authority”…. It further observed: “…no import would be made or permitted by any authority or any person of any hazardous waste which is already banned under the Basel Convention”…. It is perplexing that notwithstanding the enforcement of the Hazardous Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 1989, and the country being a signatory to the Basel Convention on Control of Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal, illegal import of such substances continues unabated in India.
Porous ports In the hazardous waste oil case the mpcb’s petition against the 11 errant companies has been filed in the court of the judicial magistrate of Uran, under whose jurisdiction the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (jnpt) lies. It was at jnpt in Nhava Sheva, Mumbai, that Nityanand Jayaraman

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