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Parliamentary report on Personal Data Protection Bill leaked

Written By mediavigil on Saturday, December 04, 2021 | 1:11 AM

Parliamentary report on Personal Data Protection Bill leaked and uploaded. It over 240 pages long. It is available at: https://documentcloud.adobe.com/link/review?uri=urn:aaid:scds:US:f030ad33-879d-4127-870a-9f055fbe2644


Promoters of centralised biometric UID/Aadhaar/NPR have been misleading Supreme Court's Constitution Benches regarding Personal Data Protection law since 2010.

Citizens Forum for Civil Liberties (CFCL) had submitted written comments and suggestions on the Bill. After the report is formally submitted to the Parliament, CFCL will release it's comments on the Bill.





Bhopal disaster, 37 Years: 37 Questions

Written By mediavigil on Thursday, December 02, 2021 | 9:33 AM

Anniversary  of the Union Carbide Disaster:-  37 Years : 37 Questions
1.  Out of the official total of 5,295 gas-related deaths, are 5,000 widows because the gas only killed married men?

2.  Why hasn't the owner of the land contaminated by Union Carbide/Dow Chemical, the MP government, 
ever sought compensation for environmental damage?

3.  Why in the last 11 years has the MP government not filed a single application for urgent hearing of the curative petition?

4.  Why are there still no treatment protocols for the proper treatment of gas victims, who as a result get only symptomatic treatments that often harm them?

5.  In hospitals run by the government for gas victims why, for last 10 years, are 40% of Doctors' posts and 56% of Specialists' post left vacant?

6.  Why has the PM not found time to meet the gas victims or talk about the victims of the world's worst industrial disaster in any of his 5 visits to Bhopal?

7.  Why has the MP government failed to provide employment to any gas victims or their children while it was sitting on 85 crore ($11.6 million) amount of money for last 10 years?

8.  Doctors and Medical Researchers of BMHRC responsible for carrying out drug trials for multinationals without informed consent, resulting in at least 13 deaths in 13 trials, are not being prosecuted. Why?

9.        Why are reports by official scientific agencies concerning soil and groundwater contamination by Union Carbide/Dow Chemical in Bhopal being ignored by the MP government?

10.      Why has the MP government not made any efforts to monitor the spread of groundwater contamination, a scientific fact verified by IITR, Lucknow?

11.      Why has the prosecution, CBI, not made any attempt so far to extradite the legal representative of Union Carbide and make him appear in the criminal case on the disaster?

12.      Why doesn't the Bhopal Memorial Hospital & Research Centre (BMHRC) have a Gynaecology, Paediatrics, General Medicine departments till today ?

13. Why does the Gas Relief Minister plan to pour concrete over land poisoned with chemicals which persist in toxicity for 100 years, that the concrete will not stop from spreading, and that Dow 
Chemical is legally obliged to clean up?

14. Why has the Chief Minister not fulfilled any of its promises made on 03/12/2011 till today?

15. Why is the MP government presenting two different figures of death — 5295 and 15242 caused by 
the disaster to the Supreme Court?

16. Why is the MP government lying in the curative petition before the Supreme Court of India that 93% of gas survivors are only temporarily injured by gas exposure?

17. Why are 7 yoga centres built at the cost of 4crores lying vacant and unused for last 9 years?

18. What has been done to improve upon the 2017 NIREH (National Institute for Research in Environmental Health) study that showed almost 9 times more congenital malformations in children 
born to gas exposed parents?

19. Why has NIREH stopped carrying out research on health impact of Bhopal Gas Disaster & environmental  contamination when it was created for this sole purpose in 2011?

20.      Why are there no doctors for mental illnesses in the state government hospitals meant for the gas exposed population?

21.      Why has the Ministry of Environment Forests & Climate Change not accepted UNEP's offer to carry out a scientific assessment of soil and groundwater contamination in and around the Union Carbide factory ?

22.      Why has the MP government taken no steps to prevent a mass public poisoning due to the cultivation of fish and water chestnuts in the pond contaminated by Union Carbide?

23.      Despite recommendations by two senior medical experts, why hasn't the MP government included Yoga as part of healthcare provided to gas victims ?

24.      Why are more than 500 women widowed by the Bhopal Gas Disaster being denied their pension that was promised by the CM?

25.      Why is the MP government sitting on 45 Crores ($6miIIion) meant to provide social support to Bhopal victims for the last YY years?

26.      Why for the last 3 years has the Department of Bhopal Gas Tragedy, Relief & Rehabilitation not had a single IAS official who wasn't dedicated to another department?

27.      Why are people with chronic exposure to  bio-accumulative organochlorines and persistent 
organic pollutants in contaminated groundwater  denied free medical care in gas relief hospitals?

28.      Why has the Supreme Court of India ignored the central and state governments' non-compliance with its 1991 order mandating medical insurance coverage to “at least 100,000 
children of gas victims born after the disaster?

29.      Why no victim of the Union Carbide disaster has received any compensation for mental illnesses caused due to toxic exposure despite scientific evidence of 30% of excess mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety disorder, insomnia and others?

30.      Why has the MP Government failed to address almost all of the concerns raised by the Supreme Court appointed Monitoring Committee for Medical Rehabilitation of Gas Victims since the committee's inception in 2004?

31.      Why has the CBI failed to make Dow Chemicals appear in the ongoing criminal proceedings on the disaster in the Bhopal District Court despite six summons issued by the Court since 2014?

32.      Why has the MP government failed to fulfil its 2010 promise to initiate a fast trial of the accused corporations and executives in the Bhopal criminal case?

33.      When it is officially acknowledged that the prolonged use of painkillers has contributed to kidney damage, and when close to 2,000 gas victims have been compensated for kidney damage, why 
has the use of kidney-damaging medicines in gas relief hospitals not been reviewed, or minimised?

34.       Covid mortality among gas victims is more than 5 times that of the Bhopal District population, official records show. Why is the MP government not presenting this clear proof of long-term morbidity  in the Supreme Court to support its claim for additional compensation from 
Union Carbide and Dow Chemical

35.      Why has the MP government done nothing to uphold the rights of children of gas victims, whom scientific evidence and official acknowledgements confirm are suffering health damage due to 
their parents' exposure, which Union Carbide/Dow  Chemical are legally bound to compensate?

36.      When it has refused to respond to six summonses issued by the Bhopal District Court since 2014, why do the central and MP state governments allow the outlaw Dow Chemical to freely do 
business in India and MP state?

37.      What happened to the money (Rs. 40 Crores) allocated in 2010 for houses for 2500 families residing near the Union Carbide factory affected by groundwater contamination?

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Issued by Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmchari Sangh, Bhopal Gas  Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha, Bhopal Group for Information and Action, Children Against Dow  Carbide                                             



Statement on 37th Anniversary of Bhopal disaster

STATEMENT OF BHOPAL GAS PEEDITH MAHILA UDYOG SANGHTHAN & BHOPAL GAS PEEDITH SANGHARSH SAHAYOG SAMITI  ON THE 37th ANNIVERSARY OF THE BHOPAL GAS LEAK DISASTER


For his valuable & selfless contributions in furthering the cause of the Bhopal gas victims, the Government of India conferred the 2020 Padma Shri Award posthumously to Shri Abdul Jabbar, former Convener, Bhopal Gas Peedith Mahila Udyog Sanghathan.  Jabbar’s wife, Sayra Bano, accepted the award from the Hon’ble President of India, Shi Ramnath Kovind, at the award ceremony held at the Rashtrapati Bhavan in Delhi on 08 November 2021.

Another year has passed without most of the core issues facing the Bhopal gas victims remaining unaddressed even 37 years after disaster of 02/03 December 1984. The poisonous gas leak disaster had resulted in the eventual death of at least 25,000 victims and had caused injuries in varying degree to over 550,000 others. The escape of toxic fumes from a pesticide plant’s storage tank containing about 40 tons of methyl isocyanate (MIC) – an extremely hazardous chemical – had spread to about 40 sq kms of area and had affected two-thirds of the city’s then population of around 900,000. The pernicious impact on flora and fauna in the affected area was equally grave. The pesticide plant was operated by Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL). UCIL was then controlled by Union Carbide Corporation (UCC) – a company now owned by the Dow Chemical Company, a subsidiary of Dow Inc., a giant U.S. multinational chemical company. 

Unfortunately, even over three and half decades after the disaster, neither the State nor the Central Government has attempted either to undertake a comprehensive assessment of the ramifications of the disaster or to take necessary remedial measures. The Supreme Court assisted Settlement of 14/15 Feb, 1989 for a sum of 470 million U.S. dollars (then about Rs,705 crores) – based on the assumption that only around 3000 victims had died and another 102,000 had suffered injuries in varying degree – was a complete sham with each gas-victim being finally awarded less than one-fifth of the sum allotted even as per the terms of that unjust settlement.

The current status of issues such as health care, compensation, prosecution of the accused, remediation of the environment, etc., may be briefly recounted as follows: 

HEALTH CARE: Apart from the fact that a fairly large health-infrastructure has been built in terms of buildings and number of hospital beds (about 1000 beds exclusively for gas-victims) because of pressure exerted over the years by organizations supporting the cause of the Bhopal gas victims, the quality of health care in terms of investigation, diagnosis, treatment, research and record-keeping continue to be abysmal as ever. The persistent apathy of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and the Government of Madhya Pradesh in monitoring the health status of the Bhopal gas victims is shocking to say the least. They have failed to maintain proper medical records of hospitals and clinics through computerization and networking and have failed to supply health-booklet to each gas-victim with his/her complete medical record. That proper protocol for treatment of most gas-related ailments has not been evolved even 37 years after the disaster speaks volumes about the apathetic attitude of the concerned authorities in this regard. Mere symptomatic treatment and over-medication due to lack of proper monitoring has resulted in increasing number of renal failures among gas-victims. What is equally shocking is that even 37 years after the disaster, most of the gas-victims seeking treatment continue to be classed as “temporarily injured” in order to deny them enhanced compensation for permanent injury.  

Writ Petition (Civil) No.50 of 1998, which BGPMUS, BGIA and BGPSSS had filed on 14.01.1998 with pleas to restart disaster-related medical research, monitor & record health status of each gas-victim, improve health care facilities, develop appropriate protocol for treatment of each disaster-related ailment, etc., was upheld by the Supreme Court after 14 years of litigation on 09.08.2012. The Petitioners were further directed to pursue the matter before the High Court of Madhya Pradesh (as Writ Petition No.15658 of 2012), a task that BGPMUS & BGPSSS are actively engaged in at present. However, the matter continues to remain pending for the last nine years before the Madhya Pradesh High Court at Jabalpur since the Union of India has repeatedly failed to comply with numerous directions of the Court. As a result, several critical health needs of the gas victims remain largely unattended even 37 years after the disaster. 

COMPENSATION: The failure on the part of the Supreme Court to hear the long-pending Curative Petition against the unjust settlement of 14/15 Feb, 1989, has had an adverse impact on the interests of the gas-victims. Curative Petition (Civil) Nos.345-347 of 2010, which was filed by the Union of India on 03 Dec, 2010 to challenge the unjust settlement of 14/15 Feb, 1989 and to seek additional sum of at least another Rs.7728 crores as compensation was last listed before the Constitution Bench of the Court on 29 Jan, 2020. However, the hearing was postponed to 11 Feb, 2020. Sadly, the matter was never listed on that date or ever since then. Failure to dispose of the Curative Petition has also meant the indefinite postponement of the hearing of the Special Leave Petition [SLP(C) No.12893 of 2010] filed on 17 Mar, 2010 by eight members of BGPMUS and BGPSSS seeking enhancement of settlement sum by a factor of five in terms of the magnitude of the disaster as assessed by the Claim Courts and in terms of the gravity of injuries suffered by the gas victims on the basis of their medical records. Failure to dispose of the pending Curative Petition and the SLP for over a decade has effectively denied the gas-victims several thousands of crores of additional compensation that they are legitimately entitled to.

CRIMINAL CASES: The pace at which the pending criminal cases against the perpetrators of the Bhopal disaster are proceeding is concerned, there is not the faintest hope that they would ever be prosecuted in their life time since the whole process has become an almost complete farce. On the thirty-seventh anniversary of the Bhopal disaster, the gas-victims still fervently hope that all those who have the power to render justice to the gas-victims will not be found wanting in fulfilling their obligations.

ENVIRONMENTAL REMEDIATION: The environment in and around the former Union Carbide pesticide plant continues to remain contaminated with toxic waste, which was stored/buried within the plant premises as well dumped in the solar evaporation pond (dug outside the plant and lined with thin plastic sheets) during the operation of the plant from 1976 to 1984. In a preliminary study titled “Assessment and Remediation of Hazardous Waste Contaminated Areas in and around M/s Union Carbide India Ltd., Bhopal” that was jointly carried out by the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI), Nagpur, and the National Geophysical Research Institute (NGRI), Hyderabad, during 2009-2010, it was estimated that “the total quantum of contaminated soil requiring remediation amounts to 11,00,000 MT [metric tons]”(p.68). Another 345 tons of toxic waste is stored in a shed within the plant. Representatives of BGPMUS and BGPSSS met Shri Vishvash Sarang, Minister, Bhopal Gas Relief & Rehabilitation Department, on 29.11.2021 and urged him to take the initiative in holding a workshop of all concerned parties, including international experts, to propose ways and means to remediate the contaminated site. It is hoped that the State Government would respond positively to the proposal since necessary technical expertise is available for the purpose.

Under the Circumstances, We Demand:

Speedy implementation of the Supreme Court Order dated 09 Aug, 2012 in Writ Petition (Civil) No.50 of 1998, which had directed the Union of India to provide the best medical care to the gas-victims;

Speedy Disposal of Curative Petition (Civil) Nos.345-347 of 2010, which is currently pending before the Supreme Court of India, for enhancement of compensation and for remediation of the contaminated site in and around the UCIL plant at Bhopal;

Setting up of a Special Court for speedy trial and prosecution of all the accused, who are responsible for causing the Bhopal disaster.

Proper rehabilitation of all needy gas-victims, especially widowed gas-victims; and

Provision of safe drinking water, free medical care and compensation to all victims of contaminated water and toxic waste.


A binding UN treaty to regulate TNCs alone can prevent Bhopal disasters

A binding UN treaty alone can ensure that transnational corporations like UCC/Dow pay the price for industrial disasters. 

Liability for industrial disasters such as the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy must be pinned on transnational corporations. New efforts for an enforceable treaty which are underway alone can ensure that business enterprises are subservient to both peoples’ will and legislative will. It can ensure the primacy of human rights and public interest over private economic interests.

Disasters like the one in Bhopal created
a compelling logic for the governments “to establish an open-ended intergovernmental working group on transnational corporations and other business enterprises with respect to human rights, whose mandate shall be to elaborate an international legally binding instrument to regulate, in international human rights law, the activities of transnational corporations and other business enterprises.”

The open-ended intergovernmental working group (OEIGWG) has had seven sessions so far.  Ahead of the seventh session, the Permanent Mission of Ecuador, on behalf of the Chairmanship of the OEIGWG, released a third revised draft legally binding instrument to regulate the activities of transnational corporations and other business enterprises. The third revised draft served as the basis for State-led negotiations during the seventh session, which took place from 25 to 29 October 2021.

Thirty  seven years after the Bhopal gas tragedy of 1984, the victims and the adversely affected ecosystems await relief and remediation. Lessons from such industrial disasters create a compelling logic for an internationally binding treaty for transnational corporations (TNCs) and human rights. To this end, a UN resolution of 2014 created the UN open-ended intergovernmental working group and tasked it to prepare the text of such a treaty. Given the fact that corporations are admittedly not meant to be “democratic public interest institutions”, such negotiations on an enforceable treaty is of great significance.

Prior to the current efforts initiated by Ecuador and supported by India, China, South Africa and others, to provide a legal remedy to wrongs committed by business enterprises, the UN Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights had approved the ‘UN norms on the responsibilities of transnational corporations and other business enterprises with regard to human rights’.

These norms emerged as a step towards ensuring corporate accountability in August 2003. But the report of the special representative of the UN Secretary-General on business and human rights undermined these proposed mandatory norms under the influence of International Chamber of Commerce and the International Organization of Employers.

It chose to promote the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights in July 2011 as part of advocacy for the status quo of voluntary regulation by the companies while admitting that “while corporations may be considered organs of society, they are specialised economic organs, not democratic public interest institutions.”

The tremendous influence of US-based Union Carbide Corporation (UCC) became visible when I posed a question to the chief minister of Madhya Pradesh. I asked him about the disposal of the 336 tonnes of hazardous waste lying in the UCC factory, its liability and the disclosure of the report of the judicial inquiry commission on the 1984 Bhopal disaster. The Chief Minister chose to maintain a studied silence about all these questions. Significantly, although the Justice SL Kochar led commission submitted its report to the state government in February 2015; it has not been made public as yet.

In such a backdrop, it was remarkable that the foreign ministry under Sushma Swaraj changed India’s position with regard to a mandatory UN treaty. In its essence, the proposed treaty is an outcome of some 45 years of effort underlining that self-regulation by TNCs is not enough at all.

In order to inspire confidence, the new efforts for an enforceable treaty must ensure that business enterprises are subservient to both peoples’ will and legislative will. It should ensure the primacy of human rights and public interest over private economic interests. It should reaffirm the hierarchical superiority of human rights norms over trade and investment treaties and develop specific state obligations in this regard.

Gopal Krishna

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The author is a law and public policy researcher 




Why India should ratify Ban Amendment to UN’s Basel Convention

 

 Why India should ratify Ban Amendment to UN’s Basel Convention to ban trade in hazardous wastes and end-of-life ships, end its romance with IMO’s Hong Kong Convention, repeal  Recycling of Ships Act

 

Position Paper

 December 2021

India should ratify Ban Amendment to UN’s Basel Convention to ban trade in hazardous wastes and end-of-life ships, end its romance with IMO’s Hong Kong Convention, repeal The Recycling of Ships Act 

ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA) welcomes European Commission’s decision to return to the UN treaty against dumping of hazardous wastes in countries like India

Flags of convenience remain a major hurdle for the implementation of Ban Amendment  

For long ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA) has been critical of romance of European Commission (EC) and India with International Maritime Organisation (IMO)’s Hong Kong Convention Hong Kong International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships, 2009. EC’s new decision to return to its original position against dumping of hazardous wastes including wastes such as end-of-life ships in countries like India in compliance with the Ban Amendment to the Basel Convention on transboundary movement of hazardous wastes and their disposal, vindicates the stance of TWA. It paves way for countries like India to incorporate Ban Amendment in their domestic laws dealing with transboundary movement of hazardous wastes and to end their romance with Hong Kong Convention. It also creates a compelling logic for India to repeal The Recycling of Ships Act, 2019 because it is inconsistent with Ban Amendment to Basel Convention which entered into force on 5 December 2019. 

The Ban Amendment, adopted by the Parties to the Basel Convention in 1995, prohibits, for those countries ratifying it, the export of hazardous wastes from member states of the European Union, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and Liechtenstein to all other countries. As of December 2021, 100 countries are parties to the Ban Amendment. India has ratified Basel Convention but it is yet to ratify Ban Amendment to the Convention for complete ban on trade in hazardous wastes.

In a regressive move, EU-flagged vessels were removed from the scope of the waste shipment rules under the EU Ship Recycling Regulation in 2013. It had ditched Basel Convention and aligned itself with the Hong Kong Convention designed by the IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) unmindful of the fact that MEPC has acted contrary to the interest of the marine environment.  

The EU Waste Shipment Regulation new proposal revisits its questionable stance and adopts its erstwhile environmentally righteous position by stating that EU-flagged end-of-life ships meant to be dismantled are no longer exempted from EU waste laws and need to comply the with Article 4a of the Basel Convention, as long as they are under EU jurisdiction. As a consequence, export of any form of hazardous waste from OECD to non-OECD countries for any reason is illegal from now onwards. TWA has been urging EU to resist the influence of global hazardous waste traders who have been busy writing the obituary of the Basel Convention and the Ban Amendment to the Convention. EU’s new position demonstrates that IMO’s Hong Kong Convention cannot outwit EU’s original position and the Basel Convention. It has been crystal clear from the very outset that end-of-life ships come under the ambit of the international hazardous waste law.

While the EU’s revised position merits appreciation, the disturbing fact is that sleight of hand like corporate veils and flags of convenience continue to enable hazardous waste traders in general and end-life-ship traders in particular to outwit the Ban Amendment to the Basel Convention by declaring their intent on the high seas or in the ports of non-OECD countries. Being a weak and indulgent treaty, Hong Kong Convention does not regulate change of flags done to escape the international hazardous waste lawThe hazardous waste laws need to be strengthened to extend their ambit from port states and flags states to the countries of hazardous waste traders and ship owners.

The clout of the hazardous wastes traders and traders of end-of-life ships can be understood from the fact that the subject of ship-breaking industry which was under the Steel Ministry from 1983 to July 2014 was brought under the supervision of the Ministry of Shipping. The fact remains ship breaking/recycling is a secondary steel production activity, an activity which is beyond the competence of Ministry of Shipping. Not only this their lobbying succeeded in the enactment of Bangladesh Ship Recycling Act, 2018 and Indian Ship Recycling Act, 2019 drawing on IMO’s Hong Kong International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships, 2009 which has not entered into force as yet. The EU’s changed stance indicates that it is unlikely to enter into force. It is noteworthy that the Bangladesh Ship Recycling Act, 2018 which was legislated by Jatiya Sangsad on January 24, 2018 was done admittedly at the behest of foreign lobbies who wished to create an world order where free trade in hazardous wastes and end-of-life ships gets legalised so that major ship owning companies/countries can escape decontamination costs.

Some foreign global shipping lobbies and hazardous waste traders worked to ensure that India ratifies IMO's Hong Kong International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships, 2009 (the Hong Kong Convention) because shipbreakers, environmental and labour groups of India, Bangladesh and Pakistan were opposed to it as it is anti-environment, anti-workers and contrary to supreme national interest. These lobbies have succeeded in Bangladesh and India.

Ahead of the entry into force of the Ban Amendment to the Basel Convention which prohibits dumping of hazardous wastes and end-of-life products in myriad disguises, in a startling move the Press Information Bureau, Government of India, announced on 20th November, 2019 that the Union Cabinet has approved “proposal for enactment of the Recycling of Ships Bill, 2019 and accession to the Hong Kong International Convention for Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships, 2009.”

Union Cabinet which rightly acknowledged that “the ship-recycling industry is a labour-intensive sector, but it is susceptible to concerns on environmental safety”, was misled by some external lobbies at work with an aim to outwit India into disregarding its position against dumping of hazardous wastes through linguistic corruption wherein waste is defined as “non-new good” or recyclable material.

India cannot be turned into a land of landfills for foreign hazardous wastes. Unless all the waste that is generated in our own country has been treated and disposed of in an environmentally sound manner, how can hazardous waste import be permitted?

India’s callousness towards the UN accord to stop the flow of hazardous wastes from developed to developing countries like India is akin to opposing the Prime Minister’s Clean India Mission. It is also in violation of Hon’ble Supreme Court’s verdict in Writ Petition (Civil) No 657 of 1995 based on the recommendations of Prof MGK Menon headed the High Powered Committee on Hazardous Wastes that dealt with ship breaking at length.

Such indifference lowers the stature of India and its scientific community because it is contrary to sustainable consumption and the circular economy as well as the Sustainable Development Goals.

The enactment of the Recycling of Ships Act, 2019 facilitates trade in hazardous wastes related to end-of-life ships, which are also hazardous wastes as per the Basel Convention. How can this happen in a business as usual manner unmindful of the Prime Minister’s Clean India Mission and Supreme Court’s verdict?

This position is inconsistent with the National Environment Policy that includes strategies for cleanup of toxic and hazardous waste dump legacies, developing a national inventory of such dumps, an online monitoring system for movement of hazardous wastes and taking legal measures for addressing emergencies arising out of transportation, handling, and disposal of hazardous wastes. India’s current position seems to be inconsistent with our the Prime Minister’s Clean India Mission.

 According to the verdict of the court:

“Hazardous wastes are highly toxic in nature. The industrialization has had the effect of generation of huge quantities of hazardous wastes. These and other side effects of development gave birth to principles of sustainable development so as to sustain industrial growth. The hazardous waste required adequate and proper control and handling. Efforts are required to be made to minimise it. In developing nations, there are additional problems including that of dumping of hazardous waste on their lands by some of the nations where cost of destruction of such waste is felt very heavy. These and other allied problems gave birth to the Basel Convention.”

This verdict has been given in Writ Petition (Civil) No 657 of 1995. The Convention was made part of its order by the court due to alarming situation created by dumping of hazardous waste, its generation and serious and irreversible damage, as a result thereof, to the environment, flora and fauna, health of animals and human beings. The court took cognizance of dumping of hazardous wastes in Indian waters as violation of Article 14 and 21 of the Constitution of India.

It germane to note that such attempts have attracted widespread criticism from environment, public health groups and even the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) when hazardous wastes and hazardous materials and recyclable materials was being made synonymous by redefining "hazardous waste" as "hazardous material" in a manifest act of linguistic corruption.

In a study, the Associated Chambers of Commerce & Industry (ASSOCHAM) also recommended ban on trade in hazardous wastes. Two members of the court's own monitoring committee on hazardous wastes had also raised objections. They who are complicit in promoting hazardous waste dumping in our country are doing so at the behest of hazardous waste traders. Their role needs to be probed.

Basel Convention’s very clear and simple definition of waste states: "Wastes are materials which are disposed of, or intended to be disposed of, or required to be disposed of, to the environment”. The court’s verdict has directed the Union of India to incorporate the Basel list in the existing rules and had actively argued for expanding the list of prohibited items for import. If India does not revise its position it will amounts to a formal announcement that India is welcoming globalisation of the toxic hazardous waste and its arrival in Indian waters.

Instead of falling into the trap of hazardous waste traders, India should call for the development of guidance to aid countries to help prohibit efforts to reclassify hazardous waste as non-waste in an exercise of circuitous definition. Hazardous waste exporters from rich countries have been consistently seeking to export toxic scrap to India and likewise, there has been a similar trend among businesses in the India to import such waste.

This is being done despite the fact that the National Environment Policy acknowledges how "environmental factors are estimated as being responsible in some cases for nearly 20 percent of the burden of disease in India".

India must take a principled stand in tune with the main principles of this UN treaty which are: transboundary movements of hazardous wastes should be reduced to a minimum consistent with their environmentally sound management; hazardous wastes should be treated and disposed of as close as possible to their source of generation; and hazardous waste generation should be reduced and minimized at source. The present position is contrary to these principles and stands in manifest contrast with its position in 1992. The Ban Amendment has now entered into force without India. Its parent treaty, the Basel Convention, is in force and India is a party to it.

Under the influence of countries like USA, Germany, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, South Korea and Japan in general and the US Chamber of Commerce, the world’s largest business federation representing the interests of more than 3 million businesses, the International Chamber of Commerce, US Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries and the Bureau of International Recycling (BIR), the international trade federation representing the world’s recycling industry, India’s position have faced continued dilution. These countries and interests never wished the Basel Convention, the Ban Amendment and the compliant Rules to come into force.

There is a need to examine how as part of the Clean India Mission, the Government of India can try to regain its original stance of being a strong opponent of the international waste trade and an ardent supporter ban on toxic waste exports from the world’s richest countries to less industrialized ones. The Government of India should recollect its position at the First Conference of Parties to the Basel Convention in Piriapolis, Uruguay, from 3-4 December, 1992. A Bhattacharja, head of the Indian delegation who pleaded with industrialized countries to stop exporting hazardous waste:

“You industrial countries have been asking us to do many things for the global good — to stop cutting down our forests, to stop using your CFCs. Now we are asking you to do something for the global good: keep your own waste.”

The Government of India was firm even at the Second Basel Convention Conference of Parties, in March 1994 and advocated ban on all hazardous waste exports from the world’s most industrialized countries, the members of the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to non-industrialized countries like India. It was only in 1995 that the Government of India revised its position at the Third Basel Conference of Parties in September 1995 under the harmful influence of representatives of the US and Australia.

The US government and ICC have been instrumental in outwitting the UN ban on hazardous waste trade through bilateral Free Trade Agreements between countries. In one of its position paper on the Basel Convention, ICC has even called for the ban on hazardous waste to be stopped by the World Trade Organization (WTO) because it is trade disruptive. This undermines the customary environmental law principles.

To safeguard our country’s environmental security and maritime security, India should not allow itself to be misled by hazardous waste traders who are blinded by their lust for profit at any human and environmental cost. In any case the truth about who all were immorally, unethically and unpatriotically complicit with merchants of death, the hazardous waste traders and who all defended public health will not remain hidden for long. This is required to ensure that foreign toxic waste does not flow in the veins and arteries of present and future Indians.

For more information contact: Gopal Krishna, ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA), E-mail: krishnagreen@gmail.com See: www.toxicswatch.org

About ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA): Founded in 2005, ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA), is an independent research and advocacy alliance that remains focused on corporate crimes, disasters, hazardous technologies, hazardous substances and wastes.  

President gives assent to repeal of three black farm laws

Written By mediavigil on Wednesday, December 01, 2021 | 10:14 PM


The President of India who had promulgated and later given assent to the three black farm laws in 2020 has now given assent to The Farm Laws Repeal Act, 2021. With this the anti-agriculturist laws have been repealed with immediate effect. The autocratic manner in which the three laws were enacted caused massive outrage across the globe. The implementation of these laws were suspended by the Supreme Court in January 2021. The constitutionality of the enactment of these laws is yet to determined by the court. Several state assemblies have passed resolutions against these three laws. 

Between ther the enactment of these laws, their suspension and repeal some 700 agriculturists have lost their lives.

The protest of the agriculturists has compelled the Prime Minister to realise that the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Ordinance, 2020 which was promulgated on June 5, 2020 to provide for barrier-free trade of farmers’ produce outside the markets notified under the various state agricultural produce market laws (state APMC Acts) did not serve the interest of the farmers.  The Ordinance and later the Act was to prevail over state APMC Acts.

This flawed legislation allowed intra-state and inter-state trade of farmers’ produce outside: (i) the physical premises of market yards run by market committees formed under the state APMC Acts and (ii) other markets notified under the state APMC acts such as private market yards and market sub-yards, direct marketing collection centres, and private farmer-consumer market yards.  This law was to facilitate trade in any place of production, collection, and aggregation of farmers’ produce including: (i) farm gates, (ii) factory premises, (iii) warehouses, (iv) silos, and (v) cold storages.

As per the repealed law farmers’ produce means food items including cereals such as wheat and rice, oilseeds, oils, vegetables, fruits, spice, and sugarcane.  It also includes: (i) products of poultry, piggery, goatery, fishery, dairy, (ii) raw cotton and jute, and (iii) cattle fodder. 

This questionable law allowed farmers, farm producer organisations as well as anyone who buys farmers’ produce for: (i) wholesale trade, (ii) retail, (iii) end-use, (iv) value addition, (v) processing, (vi) manufacturing, (vii) export, or (viii) consumption, to engage in such intra-state or inter-state trade.

It defined a farmer as a person engaged in the production of farmers’ produce by self or by hired labour.  A farmer producer organisation means an association or group of farmers which is: (i) registered under the law, or (ii) promoted under a scheme of the central or state government.

To trade in scheduled farmers’ produce (agricultural produce specified and regulated under state APMC Acts), the repealed law provided that an entity must be either: (i) a farmer producer organisation or agricultural cooperative society, or (iii) a person having permanent account number under the Income Tax Act or any other document notified by the central government.  

The repealed law made a provision for  electronic trading of farmers’ produce in the specified trade area wherein  electronic trading and transaction platform could set up to facilitate the direct and online buying and selling of farmers’ produce through electronic devices and internet for physical delivery of the farmers’ produce.  It allowed the following entities to establish and operate such platforms: (i) companies, partnership firms, or registered societies, having permanent account number under the Income Tax Act or any other document notified by the central government, and (ii) farmer producer organisation or agricultural cooperative society. 

The dispute resolution mechanism under the repealed law was deemed quite controversial: The parties involved in a trade-related dispute were to apply to the Sub-Divisional Magistrate for relief through conciliation.  The Magistrate was supposed to appoint a Conciliation Board and refer the dispute to the Board.  If the dispute remains unresolved after 30 days, the parties were to approach the Magistrate for settlement of the dispute.  The parties had a right to appeal against the decisions of the Magistrate before an Appellate Authority (Collector or Additional Collector nominated by the Collector). This provision breached the doctrine of separation of powers between the executive and the judiciary.

The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020 is an act of the Indian Government that creates a national framework for contract farming through an agreement between a farmer and a buyer before the production or rearing of any farm produces.

An Act to provide for a national framework on farming agreements that protects and empowers farmers to engage with agri-business firms, processors, wholesalers, exporters or large retailers. It was first promulgated by the Union Cabinet on 5 June 2020.

The Lok Sabha approved both bills on 17 September 2020, and Rajya Sabha on 20 September 2020. For the latter, the Official Opposition demanded physical voting instead of voice voting, but to no effect. Voting rules of Rajya Sabha state that members of the House can challenge the voice voting decision, in which case the votes need to be recorded. The Vice-Chairman of the Rajya Sabha passed the Bill with only voice voting and claimed that the Opposition had created chaos since the rules state that division voting required all members to remain seated while maintaining decorum. Subsequently, this claim was found to be factually incorrect. 

The Government had claimed that the Act helps protect farmers engaging with agribusiness firms, processors, wholesalers, exporters, or large retailers for farm services and sale of future farming produce by a mutually-agreed lucrative price framework fairly and transparently through a contract.

The Act provided for a 3-level dispute settlement mechanism by the conciliation board, Sub-Divisional Magistrate, and Appellate Authority. The agreement had to provide for a conciliation board as well as a conciliation process for the settlement of disputes. This provision was unacceptable to the farmers. 

The Act faced bitter criticism from farmers because it overlooked farmer's interests.

Since the Appellate Authority under the repealed law was the highest level of appeal for the farmer against any private entity, the farmer is effectively prevented from moving the Court. The Act was highly skewed in favor of private entities as the individual farmers did not have the resources that private companies had.

The repealed Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020 was originally promulgated as an Ordinance  on June 5, 2020.  It amended the Essential Commodities Act, 1955.  The Act empowered the central government to control the production, supply, distribution, trade, and commerce in certain commodities.  The Act sought to increase competition in the agriculture sector.  It aimed to liberalise the regulatory system.

The Act empowered the central government to designate certain commodities (such as food items, fertilizers, and petroleum products) as essential commodities.  Under the repealed law, the central government could regulate or prohibit the production, supply, distribution, trade, and commerce of such essential commodities.  The Act provided that the central government can regulate the supply of certain food items including cereals, pulses, potato, onions, edible oilseeds, and oils, only under extraordinary circumstances.  These include: (i) war, (ii) famine, (iii) extraordinary price rise and (iv) natural calamity of grave nature.h

The Act empowered the central government to regulate the stock of an essential commodity that a person can hold.  The repealed Act required that imposition of any stock limit on certain specified items must be based on price rise.  A stock limit may be imposed only if there is: (i) 100% increase in retail price of horticultural produce; and (ii) 50% increase in the retail price of non-perishable agricultural food items.  The increase were to be calculated over the price prevailing immediately preceding twelve months, or the average retail price of the last five years, whichever is lower. 

In effect, it decriminalized hoarding of food grains and allied commodities because the repealed Act provided that any stock limit will not apply to a processor or value chain participant of agricultural produce if stock held by such person is less than the: (i) overall ceiling of installed capacity of processing, or (ii) demand for export in case of an exporter.  

After the repeal of these farm laws, farmers protest is going to remain focused on demand for right to guaranteed remunerative minimum support price and freedom from indebtedness laws. 


 



 




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Executive makes Parliament subservient, Farm Laws Repeal Act yet to be notified in Gazette of India

Written By mediavigil on Monday, November 29, 2021 | 2:41 AM

On November 29, 2021, the 6-page long The Farm Laws Repeal Bill, 2021 was passed without any discussion in the Parliament. At the time of the enactment of these three black laws too, Rajya Sabha was silenced for 20 minutes in an an autocratic manner on one of the blackest days of the Indian Parliament. It is quite evident that Union Government is not allowing Union Parliament to discuss it's acts of omission and commission. Given the fact that the text of the Farm Laws Repeal does not mention it's date of entry into force, it gives rise to a suspicion regarding the intent of the Union Executive. 

It may be recalled that in 1995 the union executive

established the National Environment Tribunal (through the National Environment Tribunal Act 1995) to provide for strict liability for damage arising out of accidents caused from the handling of hazardous substances. Although Parliament passed this law, it was never notified in the Gazette of India revealing the supremacy of Union Executive over Union Parliament. Union Executive may resort to similar trick in the case of the Farm Laws Repeal Act. 

A report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Subordinate Legislation reveals that Union Executive has blatantly and impudently acted beyond the ambit of laws passed by the Union Parliament, the Constitution of India and constitutionalism on numerous occasions with impunity. Such immoral, unethical, illegitimate and unconstitutional conduct of Union Executive does not inspire confidence. Had it been sincere it ought to have  withdrawn the Land Acquisition (Amendment) Bill, 2015 and illegitimate provision of electoral bonds as well. All the legislations and subordinate legislation passed during lockdown is yet to be subjected to rigorous legislative scrutiny. 

In such a backdrop, the "repeal" of the three black farm laws must not be deemed to be repealed unless its repeal is notified in the Gazette of India. Although belated even at this stage Supreme Court ought to pronounce all the farm laws as unconstitutional. Union Judiciary ought to refrain from accepting fait accompli being presented to it by the Union Executive. 


Energy Conservation (Amendment) Bill for combating climate crisis

Written By mediavigil on Sunday, November 28, 2021 | 9:34 PM

The Energy Conservation (Amendment) Bill, 2021, to provide for enhanced new and additional financial, technological and capacity-building support, is listed for introduction to meet India's Paris Agreement commitments and to implement the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). 

Government of India has identified new areas to achieve higher levels of penetration of Renewable energy by proposing certain Amendments to Energy Conservation Act, 2001. The objective is to enhance demand for renewable energy at the end- use sectors such as Industry, buildings, transport.

The proposal includes defining minimum share of renewable energy in the overall consumption by the industrial units or any establishment. There is a provision to incentivise efforts on using clean energy sources by means of carbon saving certificate. 

R.K. Singh, Union Power Minister reviewed the proposed amendments. He had sought suggestions from concerned Line ministries/departments and State Governments. A meeting was held by Secretary (Power) with the stakeholders ministries and organizations on 28th October, 2021 to give a final shape to the proposed amendments in the EC Act.

The amendments have been proposed to strengthen the institutions originally envisaged under the Act. It is claimed that the proposed amendments will facilitate development of carbon market in India and prescribe minimum consumption of renewable energy either as direct consumption or indirect use through grid. It is claimed that it will help in reduction of fossil fuel based energy consumption and carbon emission to the atmosphere. 

It is inexplicable as to how carbon trade and market can combat climate crisis. The past experience reveals that most carbon trade projects are business as usual projects. For instance, even judicially determined polluting waste based thermal power plants are earning carbon credits. India's proposed 100 waste to energy projects are all set to contribute to climate crisis. It distorts waste management by promoting waste incineration which emits green house gases, heavy metals like Mercury and persistent organic pollutants like Dioxins. 

India has committed to an ambitious Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) of reducing emission intensity by 33-35% in 2030 against the levels of 2005. India is committed to achieve more than 40 percent cumulative electric power installed capacity from non-fossil-fuel energy resources by 2030. 

It is claimed that by adopting energy efficiency measures, India holds a potential to reduce about 550 MtCO2 by 2030. It is also claimed that the proposed changes to the EC Act will boost the adoption of clean technologies in various sectors of economy. The provisions would facilitate promotion of green Hydrogen as an alternate to the existing fossil fuels used by the Industries.

The claim about additional incentives in the form of carbon credits against deployment of clean technologies resulting in private sector involvement in climate actions is suspect. The proposal also includes expanding the scope of Act to include larger residential

buildings, with an aim to promote sustainable habitat.

It is claimed that the amendment to EC Act, 2001 will empower institutions to contribute for India's Paris commitments and in the implementation of our NDCs. 

The Farm Laws Repeal Bill, 2021 to repeal three black farm laws

Written By mediavigil on Saturday, November 27, 2021 | 6:25 AM


"The Farm Laws Repeal Bill, 2021" to repeal three black farm laws has been listed as part of "Legislative Business: Bills for consideration and passing" in a publication dated 26 November, 2021 signed by Utpal Kumar Singh, Secretary General, Lok Sabha. 

In essence, these laws are: 

1. Contract Farming law, (Farmers Agreement & Price Assurance Act 2020)

2. Bypass of government established agricultural produce market committee (APMC) law, (Farmer's Produce Trade and Commerce Act, 2020)

3 Decriminalization of hoarding law. (Essential Commodities Amendment Act, 2020) 

The Statement of Objects and Reasons of the Farm Law Repeal Bill 2021 is as under:  

The fact remains that the repeal laws are not enough. The guaranteed remunerative Minimum Support Price Bill and The Farmers Right to Freedom from Indebtedness Bill is yet to be listed for introduction. At least since 2018, the farmers are demanding "The Farmers Right to Guaranteed Remunerative Minimum Support Price for Agricultural Communities Bill" which alone can confer right to remunerative minimum support for agricultural produce with minimum 50℅ profit margin above comprehensive production cost on sale of commodities. They are also demanding "The Farmer's Freedom From Indebtedness Bill" which is required to confer a right on indebted farmers to obtain an immediate one-time complete waiver of outstanding loan;right to obtain institutional credit;protection of debt trapped farmers from suicides.

The farmers protest is largest peaceful democratic protest the world has ever seen. It will continue till enactment of Farmers Right to Guaranteed Remunerative Minimum Support Price for Agricultural Commodities Act, Farmers Freedom From Indebtedness Act and repeal of Electoral Bonds.

It is evident that it was the provision of anonymous Electoral Bonds that fathered the black farm laws and other anti-people laws like the four labour codes. Anonymous foreign funding of ruling parties is immoral, unethical and sinful. It is lethal threat to present and future Indians. It is part of Fourth Generation War against India by transnational actors & commercial czars. 

 

 
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