New Delhi: The environment ministry has notified new Regulation of Persistent Organic Pollutants (POP) Rules, 2018 which ban the manufacture, trade, use, import and export of the seven toxic chemicals listed under the Stockholm Convention.
The Stockholm Convention aims to eliminate or restrict the production and use of all intentionally produced POPs found in industrial chemicals and pesticides. India signed the Convention in May 2002 and ratified it in January 2006.
POPs are organic chemical substances—toxic to both humans and wildlife—which once released into the environment remain intact for years on end, become widely distributed throughout the environment as a result of natural processes involving soil, water and air, and accumulate in the fatty tissues of living organisms including humans. Because of human activities, POPs are widely distributed over large regions of the world including areas where they were never used.
POPs are recognized by the International Agency for Research on Cancer as Group 1 carcinogens or cancer-causing substances.
Specific effects of POPs can include cancer, allergies and hypersensitivity, damage to the central and peripheral nervous systems, reproductive disorders, and disruption of the immune system.
On 5 March, India’s ministry of environment, forest and climate change (MoEFCC) notified the Regulation of Persistent Organic Pollutants Rules, 2018 which prohibits “manufacture, trade, use, import and export “of the seven chemicals—Chlordecone, Hexabromobiphenyl, Hexabromodiphenyl ether and heptabromodiphenyl ether, Tetrabromodiphenyl ether and pentabromodiphenyl ether, Pentachlorobenzene, Hexabromocyclododecane and Hexachlorobutadine.
The rules will come into force by one year after the date of their publication, the notification added. The draft notification was made public by MoEFCC last year in August seeking suggestions and views of all stakeholders.
The notification, which was reviewed by Mint, states that “suggestion or objections received in response to the draft rules have been duly considered by the Central Government".
The notification held that industrial units where these chemicals are handled or persons in possession of these chemicals “shall declare, the total quantity of the chemicals, which are in use and their stockpiles" to the environment ministry within six months (by September 2018).
It further said that these industrial units or persons, “shall not drain or discharge or dispose the chemicals directly or indirectly in effluent treatment plant, sewage treatment plant, onto any land, in public sewers, in inland surface water or in marine coastal areas".
It further held that the waste containing these chemicals “shall be disposed of as per the provisions of the Hazardous and Other Wastes (Management and Transboundary Movement) Rules, 2016".
The rules, however, clarified that these chemicals, “may be used, sold or imported in quantities as required for research and development activities in central universities, Council of Scientific and Industrial Research laboratories, government institutions or other research institutions or accredited laboratories in the government or private sector after the approval of MoEFCC".