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Bihar insecticide tragedy, Monocrotophos not banned as yet

Written By Gopal Krishna on Wednesday, September 21, 2016 | 12:39 AM



ToxicsWatch Alliance
To

Shri Radha Mohan Singh
Union Minister of Agriculture
Government of India
New Delhi

Date: September 21, 2016

Subject- Failure of Central Insecticide Board in Bihar insecticide tragedy & phase out of organophosphate-containing insecticides like Monocrotophos

Sir,

With reference to Monocrotophos, the insecticide that was responsible for the Mid Day Meal tragedy on July 16, 2013 at the Dharma Sati Primary School Mashrak, Chapra in Saran district, Bihar and the failure of Central Insecticide Board, I submit that instead of recommending ban on this toxic chemical Dr. Anupam Verma headed expert committee has unwisely allowed its continued use by stating that its status is “to be reviewed again in 2018, after completion of the recommended studies”.

This came to light from the reply of Union Minister of State for Agriculture and Farmers Welfare in the Lok Sabha on July 19, 2016 while he was informing the Parliament about expert committee’s findings.

I submit that this issue is directly related to widespread availability insecticides and absence of method to deal with obsolete insecticides and their containers which are contaminated with insecticides has remained off the radar so far.

I submit that under Insecticides Act, 1968, Union Ministry of Agriculture is supposed to regulate the   import, manufacture, sale, transport, distribution and use of insecticides with a view to prevent risks to human beings and animals and for other matters connected therewith since 1971.

I submit that Central Insecticides Board, established under Section 4 of the Insecticides Act is supposed to advise the Central Government and State Governments on technical matters arising out of the administration of this Act and to carry out the other functions assigned to the Board by or under this Act on issues like “the risk to human being or animals involved in the use of insecticides and the safety measures necessary to   prevent such risk” and “the manufacture, sale, storage, transport and distribution of insecticides with a view to ensure safety to human beings or animals.” In pursuance of this mandate it is the responsibility of Dr Jagdish Prasad, Director General of Health Services, Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare who is ex-officio Chairman of the Central Insecticide Board to intervene and guide the State Government.      

I submit that the Central Insecticide Board appears guilty of dereliction of duty because although the insecticide tragedy took place on July 16, he has failed to act in compliance of his responsibility.

I submit that there is a crying need for Agriculture Ministry and Pollution Control Boards to ensure inventorization, proper disposal of obsolete pesticides and contaminated containers.  

I submit that Organophosphorous, a chemical used as an insecticide has been identified and found to be responsible for deaths and diseases of school children. Organophosphate-containing insecticides include parathion, monocrotophosmalathion, methyl parathion, chlorpyrifos, diazinon, dichlorvos, phosmet, fenitrothion, tetrachlorvinphos, azamethiphos, and azinphos methyl.

Besides Monocrotophos, 26 other pesticides which are to be reviewed for banning in 2018 include Acephate, Atrazine, Benfuracarb, Butachlor, Captan,  Carbendazim, Carbofuran, Chlorpyriphos, Deltamethrin, Dicofol, Dimethoate, Dinocap,  Diuron, 2,4-D, Malathion, Mancozeb, Methomyl, Monocrotophos, Oxyfluorfen, Pendimethalin, Quinalphos, Sulfosulfuron, Thiodicarb, Thiophanate methyl, Thiram, Zineb and Ziram

I submit that there is a need for a scientific mechanism to destroy the six pesticides namely Alachlor, Dichlorvos, Phorate, Phosphamidon, Triazophos and Trichlorfon which are listed for phase out by 2020. The CIB must be asked to announce its phase out plan so that present and future generations are not affected by its adverse legacy.

I submit that the recommendation for ban on 13 pesticides namely, Benomyl, Carbaryl, DDT, Diazinon, Fenarimol, Fenthion, Linuron, MEMC, Methyl Parathion, Sodium Cyanide, Thiometon, Tridemorph and Trifluralin is step in the right direction but the government should announce the ban without any further delay. This too requires a scientific mechanism for destruction to ensure that no one suffers from its continued existence in form or the other.    

I submit that according to International Programme on Chemical Safety (IPCS), WHO which works to establish the scientific basis for the sound management of chemicals, the ingestion of 120 mg monocrotophos can be fatal. (Reference: IPCS, 1993).

I submit that HILCRON commonly known as monocrotophos has been detected in the probe by the Bihar Government’s agency. This is manufactured Hindustan Insecticides Limited, which is sunder Union Ministry of Chemicals & Fertilizers. Other manufacturers of monocrotophos include Hindustan Ciba Geigy Ltd, Bharat Pulverizing Mills Ltd., Lupin, National Organic Chemical Industries Ltd, Sudarshan and United Phosphorus. Their stringent regulation merits your urgent attention.  

I submit that monocrotophos is used for control of a broad spectrum of pests including sucking, chewing and boring insects and spider mites on cotton, paddy, sugarcane, vegetables, ground nut, soya bean, tea, coffee etc.

As per WHO classification based on oral toxicity, monocrotophos is highly hazardous. WHO recommends that for the health and welfare of workers and the general population, the handling and application of monocrotophos should be entrusted only to competently supervised and well-trained applicators, who must follow adequate safety measures and use the chemical according to good application practices. It is clear that these recommendations have not been internalized by regulatory agencies in India.

I submit that all waste and contaminated material associated with this chemical should be considered hazardous waste, according to FAO Guidelines on Prevention of Accumulation of Obsolete Pesticide Stocks and The Pesticide Storage and Stock Control Manual.

I submit that your agencies too should be involved in the probe to identify the name of the Organophosphate insecticide involved and its manufacturer. The responsibility and liability of this manufacturer must be fixed. The probe must recommend take back policy so that these manufacturers have an Extended Producers Responsibility with regard to its residual insecticides and their containers. 

I submit that most home uses of organophosphorus insecticides have been phased out in countries like USA. The US Environmental Protection Agency lists the organophosphate parathion as a possible human carcinogen. The World Health Organization, Pesticide Action Network (PAN) and several environmental organisations have sought a general and global ban on it. Its use is banned or restricted in 23 countries and its import is illegal in a total of 50 countries. Its use was banned in the U.S. in 2000 and it has not been used since 2003. The usage of such insecticides continues to be used because of the political patronage enjoyed by the manufacturers of these insecticides.

I submit that your ministry should initiate efforts to recall Organophosphorus pesticides, which is responsible for about 200,000 deaths annually. Organophosphorus pesticides cause poisoning by inhibiting release of enzymes.

I submit that Central Insecticides Board & Registration Committee, Union Ministry of Agriculture has dealt with issues related to pesticide poisoning in a very non-serious manner so far. It has done nothing beyond asking the States to “provide pesticide poisoning data (cases and deaths due to pesticides) as this is an important aspect related to human health.”

I submit that consumption of chemical pesticides in Bihar is matter of serious concern because the state has the potential to be a leader in natural organic farming. As per information available with Central Insecticides Board & Registration Committee projected demand of chemical pesticides for the year 2010-11 was 1084 MT in Bihar. This included 530 MT and 554 MT Kharif and Rabi crops respectively. The consumption of chemicals pesticides was 828 MT for the year 2009-10 inclusive of 374 MT for Kahrif and 454 Rabi crops. Consumption of pesticides in Bihar was 850 MT during 2004-05.  

In a related development, on August, 29, 2016, Vijay Anand Tiwari, Additional District Judge II of Saran (Chhapra) court in a 49 page long verdict sentenced Mina Devi, Gandaman primary school principal to 10 and 7 years imprisonment in connection with the 2013 midday meal tragedy, in which 23 children had died after eating soyabean vegetable. The court makes mention of Monocrotophos, the pesticide in question and underlines that the food that caused the death of 23 students was contaminated with this pesticide. The verdict is available at

Although Gandaman primary school principal has been sentenced to 10 years jail term under IPC sections of 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) and seven years under section 308 (criminal negligence) and fined her with Rs 2.5 lakh under Section 304 and Rs 1.25 under Section 308, the fact remains the manufacturers, sellers and regulators of pesticide have remained out of the scanner so far. The poisonous pesticide in question was kept at home for spraying on sugar cane crops. The institutional responsibility for availability of such a toxic substance lies with the regulator. In such cases manufacturers and sellers should also be held accountable.  

I submit that there are at least 5525 sale points for distribution of pesticides in Bihar.  These distributors should be made to take back the contaminated containers and the residual insecticides.  I submit that lessons from the insecticides tragedy in Bihar should not be forgotten. This creates a compelling logic for proper management of pre-existing insecticides, their containers and to initiate steps to phase out organophosphates. 

In view of the above facts and the recent insecticide tragedy, I wish to seek your urgent intervention to get to the bottom of the insecticide tragedy to take the issue of the tragedy to its logical end by banning organophosphate-containing insecticides like Monocrotophos to protect public health of the present and future generations.

Thanking You
Yours faithfully
Dr Gopal Krishna
Director
ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA)
Mb: 09818089660, 08227816731
E-mail: 1715krishna@gmail.com
Web: www.toxicswatch.org

Cc
Shri Surendrajeet Singh Ahluwalia, Union Minister of State for Agriculture & Farmers Welfare
Shri Ramvichar Rai, Minister of Agriculture, Government of Bihar  
Chairman, Central Insecticides Board, Union Ministry of Agriculture

Legal compulsion forces UGC, Central Govt. to revise “mandatory UID/Aadhaar” order, it remains voluntary

Written By Gopal Krishna on Saturday, September 17, 2016 | 5:09 AM

Revision order vindicates position of CFCL and eminent citizens who have issued Statement of Concern and Public Statement

Punjab & Haryana High Court questioned legality of 12 digit biometric UID/Aadhaar Number, Central Govt. agreed 

Role of Registry of the Supreme Court crucial and relevant for compliance with the order of Chief Justice headed five Judge Bench

UIDAI CEO shares half truths with State Govts, Media and citizens 

September 16, 2016: Responding to letters of Citizens Forum for Civil Liberties (CFCL) to Chief Justice of India, Union Minister of Human Resource Development and Secretary, University Grants Commission (UGC) and contempt applications in the Supreme Court, UGC has “clarified that any student who have applied or wishing to apply for scholarship/fellowship shall not be denied benefit thereof due to non availability of Aadhaar No./Card.”  The revised PUBLIC  NOTICE dated September 14, 2016 is available  at http://www.ugc.ac.in/pdfnews/7057426_UGC-Clarification-reg-AADHAAR-14.09.2016.pdf

CFCL had sent the attached letters on August 26, 2016, July 12, 2016 and 2nd July, 2016 drawing their attention towards order dated 15.10.2015 passed by the Supreme Court of India in the ‘UID/Aadhaar’ matter, i.e. Justice (retd.) K.S. Puttuswamy v. UOI & Ors., WP (C) No. 494/2012 and related petitions. The order is attached for your perusal and consideration. The circular of UGC which is in manifest violation of Hon’ble Court’s order is available at http://www.ugc.ac.in/pdfnews/4792000_Aadhaar-.pdf. The CFCL letters to the concerned authorities are attached

AADHAAR/ UID scheme is presently under challenge before the Supreme Court. After hearing the parties has passed a series of interim orders starting the 23rd September 2013 and the last of which was passed on October 15, 2015 inter alia, states as follows.
4. We impress upon the Union of India that it shall strictly follow all the earlier orders passed by this Court commencing from 23.09.2013.
5. We will also make it clear that the Aadhaar card Scheme is purely voluntary and it cannot be made mandatory till the matter is finally decided by this Court one way or the other.
In the related case the Hon'ble Supreme Court in SLP (CRl) 2524/2014 Unique Identification Authority of India Vs CBI passed an order dated 24.3.2014 which reads as follows: “More so, no person shall be deprived of any service for want of Aadhaar number in case he/she is otherwise eligible/entitled. All the authorities are directed to modify their forms/circulars/likes so as to not compulsorily require the Aadhaar number in order to meet the requirement of the interim order passed by this Court forthwith. Tag and list the matter with main mater i.e. WP (C) No. 494/2012.”

All the orders of Supreme Court are still in force as per Court's order of 15th October, 2015 and they will remain in force till the time court itself does not waive them. The Court’s order makes it clear that UID/ aadhaar remains voluntary.

Therefore, no one can be asked to produce UID/ aadhaar for disbursement of all Government subsidies/Scholarships/Fellowships which are to be disbursed directly into the beneficiaries' account.

In view of the above mentioned facts, UGC and central government is under a legal compulsion to revise its illegitimate and illegal orders fearing Court’s action in the face of violation of its unambiguous order.

It is noteworthy that legality of UID/Aadhaar has already been questioned by Punjab & Haryana High Court. 

In a setback to efforts to bulldoze UID/Aadhaar and related schemes, following the direction issued to the Union of India and Union Territory of Chandigarh by Punjab and Haryana High Court in the matter of Civil Writ Petition 569 of 2013 filed in the High Court against Union of India and others, the Executive Order for making Unique Identification (UID)/Aadhaar mandatory was withdrawn. In its order the Punjab and Haryana High Court bench of Justice A K Sikri, Chief Justice and Justice Rakesh Kumar Jain dated February 19, 2013 had noted that the petition “raises a pure question of law.” Since the Executive Order was withdrawn, the case too was disposed of March 2, 2013 with a two page order. 

The Order observes, “In this writ petition filed as PIL, the petitioner has challenged the vires of notification issued by Union of India for making it compulsory to have UID Cards." It is further observed in the order that “Second issue raised in this petition is that vide order dated 5.12.2012, respondent No.3 i.e. Deputy Commissioner, U.T., Chandigarh has given directions to the Branch In charge Registration-cum-Accountant, office of Registering & Licensing Authority, Chandigarh not to accept any application for registration of vehicle and grant of learner/regular driving licence without UID card.” 

It is noteworthy that Secretary Government of India, Ministry of Communication and Information Technology wrote a letter to the Secretary, Department of Defence Production asking him to introduce Aadhaar enabled Biometric Attendance System in the department of defence production. The system would enable an employee with an Aadhaar number to register his/her attendance (arrival/ departure) in the office through biometric authentication. It also says that a web based application software system will enable online recording of attendance and that the dash board relating to real time attendance and related statistics, can be viewed by everyone. It is clear that this transforms a “voluntary” project into a mandatory project. 

Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) [formerly Ministry of Communications and Information Technology] has been misleading the State Governments, media and the citizens.

Meanwhile, Ajay Bhushan Pandey, Chief Executive Officer, UIDAI has claimed that “At least from the UIDAI side, we have not said it shall be mandatory.” If it indeed true that UID/Aadhaar is not being made mandatory by UIDAI then MeitY should withdraw its letter to Secretary Department of Defence Production and other departments, agencies and State Governments.  If it does not do so with immediate effect else it will demonstrate that it is fibbing by articulating equivocal and questionable statements.   

Citizens Forum for Civil Liberties (CFCL) had sent a legal notice to the Central Government. It responded stating, “Aadhaar is being used for Biometric Attendance System and this does not form part of Defence application”.  

Government will have us believe that there is no difference between “age-old attendance register” and UID/Aadhaar enabled Biometric Attendance System. It is eminently clear that UIDAI is sharing half-truths with State Governments, media and the citizens.  

In order to comprehend the sophistry involved in such averments, it is germane to recall the intervention of National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) in the case wherein Indian students in USA were made to wear radio collars. NHRC ensured that the government acted to ensure that the human rights of students are protected. It is germane to note that radio collar is based on biometric data like voice print. If making Indian students wear biometric radio collar constitutes an act which Government of India admitted as an act of violation of human rights, indiscriminate biometric profiling is also an act of violation of human rights. As per Section 2 (G) of Aadhaar Act 2016, “biometric information” means photograph, fingerprint, Iris scan, or any other biological attributes specified by regulations. Thus, it clearly includes biological attributes like voice print and DNA.

If UID/Aadhaar enabled Biometric Attendance System is indeed a “digital equivalent” of “age-old attendance register”, why did NHRC object to radio collar which can also be argued by sophists to be “digital equivalent”. If the “digital equivalent” means biometric equivalent as well then it makes DNA based identity and attendance will also be deemed equivalent to “age-old attendance register”. It is quite evident that such is deeply misleading.

Coincidentally, NHRC’s views on National Identification Authority of India Bill, 2010 (Aadhaar Bill, 2010) helped Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance in its recommendation to trash the Bill and the biometric data based UID/Aadhaar programme.

The fact is that the application of biometric UID/Aadhaar was restricted to ‘civilian application’ and was not meant for defence application. Central Government’s Biometrics Standards Committee had categorically stated that UID/aadhaar’s is meant only for “civilian application” but the order on aadhaar enabled biometric attendance system has been extended to defence employees as well.

It is evident that Central Government has illegitimately and illegally been trying to make UID/Aadhaar Number mandatory by making it structurally irreversible outwitting Court’s directions although the very first promise which legally questionable UIDAI made in its UID/Aadhaar Enrolment Form is/was that it is “free and voluntary”. Government’s notification of September 12, 2016 also underlines it. The fact is that it is neither free nor voluntary. It is not free because the foreign companies involved are admittedly charging Rs 2.75 per enrolment. Central, State Governments and other agencies have been illegally seeding UID/Aadhaar in their IT systems to make it structurally mandatory. It is only Court’s order that has kept UID/Aadhaar “voluntary.” Earlier government had tried unsuccessfully to make even disbursal of judges’ salary conditional on UID/Aadhaar.

Such attempts to make UID/Aadhaar have emerged as an act of bullying by the government agencies and turning citizens into subjects by making right to have inalienable, natural, fundamental and constitutional rights conditional on biometric identification.

The revision of the UGC’s order by central government ahead of the upcoming hearing in the Supreme Court vindicates the position of CFCL and eminent citizens who have issued Statement of Concern and Public Statement seeking halting of UID/Aadhaar project. This revision reveals that the central government, state governments and other agencies who have been attempting to make it mandatory have been manifestly been wrong.  
Although Constitution Benches have started sitting since January 15, 2016 after your intervention, birth of Constitution Bench UID/Aadhaar Number case continues to experience labour pains. Court’s website as of September 16, 2016 states that UID/Aadhaar case is a “Five Judges Matter” but among the 10 Constitution Bench cases listed for hearing, it finds no mention despite the fact that a five judge bench headed by Chief Justice of India wrote, "Since there is some urgency in the matter, we request the learned Chief Justice of India to constitute a Bench for final hearing of these matters at the earliest". Unless these words are accorded due respect and attention, the meaning of the words of Court will lose their gravity.
The role of Registry of the Supreme Court in ensuring compliance of the order of Chief Justice headed five Judge Bench is quite crucial and relevant in this regard.
In view of the “urgency” admitted and recorded by Court’s Bench of five judge headed by Chief Justice of India to the biometric UID/Aadhaar Number case, it appears inappropriate that even as the apex Court is to determine the legal status of UID/Aadhaar, Indian residents are being coerced to accept 12 Digit Biometric UID/Aadhaar Number as a fait accompli.
Following the revision order of central government, there is a logical compulsion for withdrawing the letter and all consequential letters by which UID is made applicable to defence application i.e. Department of Defence Production in the interest of supreme national security.
Central Government has kept State Governments in a dark about its transnational linkages and implications the latter are yet to realize that UID/Aadhaar project is a grave threat to federalism as well.
Under the tremendous influence from unregulated and ungovernable technology companies, Central Government and State Governments have failed to safeguard national security and citizens’ inalienable rights.
It is possible that such civilian and non-civilian applications are being bulldozed by some commercial entities in order to store and read biometric and DNA script of Indian population in the aftermath of the sequencing of
Human Genome for epigenetics, medicine, big data, social control, inheritance, eugenics and genetic determinism.
For Details: Gopal Krishna, Citizens Forum for Civil Liberties (CFCL)*, Mb: 09818089660, 08227816731, E-mail-1715krishna@gmail.com

 *Citizens Forum for Civil Liberties (CFCL) has been working on the issue of Unique Identification (UID) Number branded as “Aadhaar” since 2010. CFCL appeared as an expert to give testimony in front of Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance which examined the National Identification Authority of India Bill, 2010 (Aadhaar Bill, 2010). A series of articles on the subject are available at http://www.moneylife.in/author/gopal-krishna.html

Round Table on “From Kyoto, Doha to Paris: Issues before Marrakesh Climate Conference”

Written By Gopal Krishna on Tuesday, September 13, 2016 | 5:03 AM

Round Table on “From Kyoto, Doha to Paris: Issues before Marrakesh Climate Conference”
Date: Saturday, September 17, 2016
Venue: First Floor, A-124/6, (above Kotak Mahindra ATM), Shaheed Jeet Singh Marg, Katwaria Sarai,
Opposite Indian Statistical Institute, New Delhi-11016
Time: 2 PM onwards

Ahead of 22nd Conference of Parties to United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)-CoP 22, which will be held in Marrakesh, Morocco from 7-18 November 2016, the Round Table Discussion is being organized to dwell on issues like Doha amendment to the Kyoto Protocol, Paris Agreement and role of state and non-state actors in dealing implications of climate crisis. It will dwell on the compliance with a second commitment period which has commenced from 1st January 2013 in the 11th year of the Protocol.

There is a logical compulsion to undertake climate action to prevent irreversible global changes in the pre-2020 and post-2020 period. It will also explore the remedial nature o
f the proposed solutions for combating climate crisis in the 22nd year of UNFCCC’s entry into force.

For Details: Gopal Krishna, Mb: 9818089660

Pollution from festivals, a failure of religious leaders

Written By Gopal Krishna on Sunday, September 11, 2016 | 9:45 PM

Immersion of idols in water bodies is unscientific and non-religious  

The dictum of scriptures underlining the link between religious festivals and environmental pollution has been ignored for several decades. The fundamental concept of the Vedic era is the concept of the panchbhootas, the five elements of nature- earth, water, air, fire and space. The panchbhootas are to be revered, not to be polluted. Upanishads and Puranas and other sacred texts underline it.

Atharvaveda has warned not to dirty and add toxic substances into water bodies as it may lead to spread of diseases “he who dirties or spoils ponds, lakes, rivers, etc., or cause smell near residential areas is liable to chastisement."

Yajurveda says, “Do not poison water and do not harm or cut the trees and “Do not disturb the sky and do not poison the atmosphere”.

Taittariya Upanishad prescribed norms for human beings to keep the environment clean. It says, “One should not cause urine and stool in water, should not spit in water; and should not take bath without clothes”

It is noteworthy that Vishnu took form of a fish in his Matsya avatar to clean the polluted sea and rivers. He took form of a swine in Varaha avatar to clean the land by eating up all the filth. It is clear that the traditions and scriptures not been understood and properly interpreted. The ongoing pollution from such festivals and related rituals is a result of failure of religious leaders.  

Religious leaders have made themselves busy in commercial activities instead of protection of environment, the most sacred. The situation is that the religious leaders fail to understand the connection between religious ritual and festivals and environmental damage. They seem to act like philistines. They feign ignorance about the ancestral wisdom about the sacredness of rivers, water bodies and elements of nature. The common people who are involved in religious activities in a mechanical way are in the dark about the forbidden aspects of engagement with nature and water bodies. The Hindu religious leaders appear responsible for this unethical state of affairs and environmental damages.

This is true about Muslims religious leaders as well. For instance, on the day of Moharram, tazia, the replica of tomb of Husain, the grandson of Prophet Muhammed is immersed in the lakes.


The religious leaders fail to communicate the need to preserve environment and water bodies. The unquestioning obedience to religious tradition has made people unscientific in approach especially in matters related to religion.

Activist Gopal Krishna exposes India’s doublespeak in environment protection

Last week, Livelaw carried Part I of the interview with Gopal Krishna, environmental activist and scholar on his inspirations, and ongoing concerns. In Part II, he answers specific questions concerning his activism, and interactions with the Central Government, with regard to his campaigns against asbestos and ship-breaking industries. Gopala Krishna
PART ONE: 

Case of Okhla waste incinerator shows High Court more competent than Tribunal

Despite 76 hearings in High Court & NGT, no relief in sight from waste incinerator for Okhla residents & birds
Matter listed for 77th time on 14th September
National CDM Authority must revoke the “Host Country Approval” given to Okhla waste incinerator
September 10, 2016, New Delhi: ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA) expresses its dismay at the approach of National Green Tribunal (NGT) in the matter of Jindal's waste incinerator technology based power plant in Okhla, Delhi which came up for hearing on 9th September and listed the matter for hearing on 14th September for 49th date of hearing in the face of callousness of the Government of Delhi towards the health of residents and birds of Okhla. The Petition in question (Application No. 22 of 2013) reached NGT after having been heard 28 times in Delhi High Court between October 2009 and January 2013. The new Solid Waste (management and handling) Rules 2016 too have failed to bring any ray of hope to the residents and birds of Okhla.

It is puzzling as to why NGT is deviating from its own observation "the first  and  the  foremost  question  that  has  to  be  answered to  this  Tribunal  is  whether  or  not  this generating plant is causing environmental  problems  and  is  releasing  hazardous  discharge s which  could  be  injurious  to  the  health  of  the  residents  in  the  colonies  of  the  area  in  the  vicinity  of  project  site." NGT had observed this in its order dated March 11, 2013.

The case was transferred from the High Court of Delhi in view of the terms of the order dated 23rd January, 2013. It was transferred at a stage when High Court was all set to pronounce its verdict in the matter after a Division Bench of the High Court vide the judgment dated 15th January, 2013 took a categorical position against incinerator technology. The judgment cited ‘The summary of “Epidemiological Studies on Adverse Health Effects Associated with Incineration” would show that medical waste incinerators are a leading source of dioxins and mercury in the environment and there is link between incinerator emissions and adverse health impacts on incinerator workers and residents living around the incinerators.’

Court observed: “Both older and more modern incinerators can contribute to the contamination of local soil and vegetation with dioxins and heavy metals. In several European countries, cows milk from farms located in the vicinity of incinerators has been found to contain elevated levels of dioxin, in some cases above regulatory limits. Increased levels of dioxins have been found in the tissues of residents near to incinerators in the UK, Spain and Japan. At an incinerator in Finland, mercury was increased in hair of residents living in the vicinity. Children living near a modern incinerator in Spain were found to have elevated levels of urinary thioethers, a biomarker of toxic exposure. “ It noted that “After 2 years of operation of incinerator, dioxins levels were found increased by about 25% in both groups living between 0.5 to 1.5 and 3.5 to 4.0 km away (201 people) of people. In the repeat analysis, the increase was in the range of 10-15%”.

The High Court’s verdict records that “Mothers living close to incinerators and crematoria from 1956 to 1993” showed “ncreased risk of lethal congenital abnormalities, in particular, spinal bifida and heart defects, near incinerators: increased risk of stillbirths and anacephalus near crematoria”. With regard to “Residents from 7 to 64 years old living within 5 km of an incinerator and the incinerator workers” the judgment observes, “Levels of mercury in hair increased with closer proximity to the incinerator during a 10 year period”. The judgment found that “Residents living within 10 km of an incinerator, refinery, and waste disposal site” showed “Significant increase in laryngeal cancer in men living with closer proximity to the incinerator and other pollution sources”.

The “Residents living around an incinerator and other pollution sources” showed “Significant increase in lung cancer related specifically to the incinerator”. The “People living within 7.5 km of 72 incinerators” displayed “Risks of all cancers and specifically of stomach, colorectal, liver and lung cancer increased with closer proximity to incinerators”.

The High Court dismissed the contention of M/s Synergy Pvt Ltd that it’s Bio-Medical Waste Treatment Facility based on incinerator technology is far away from residential localities such as Sukhdev Vihar. On inquiry it was found that the distance between the said facility and their colony is less than 30 meters.

But defying any logic and disregarding such glaring evidence, the High Court instead of applying the same relevant reasoning for the same geographical location in the matter of Jindal's waste incinerator technology based power plant in Okhla, transferred the matter to NGT.

The September 1, 2016 order of NGT starkly reveals the insensitivity of NGT. It reads: "The  Learned  Counsel  appearing  for  all  the Public Authorities   shall   take   clear   instructions   as   to   the availability  of  the  sites, operationalisation  of  the  waste  to  energy plant, capacity of each of them and what steps they are going to take to ensure their continuous operalisation without any further delay.  The   Learned   Counsel   appearing   for   the   North Corporation would also take clear instructions as to the Revenue Sharing Agreement with the Project Proponent. List this matter for arguments on 09th September, 2016."

The order has no relationship with the prayers in the case and with "the first and the foremost question" identified by the NGT. It appears that either someone from the side of residents has compromised the cause or has failed to comprehend the grave issues at stake.    

The fact is that it has been ascertained by the NGT that is the plant is "causing environmental  problems  and  is  releasing  hazardous  discharge s which  could  be  injurious  to  the  health  of  the  residents." But the petitioner and their lawyer have failed to argue the case. There is surely something fishy in the state of affairs. The content analysis of the NGT's orders demonstrate it.  September 1, 2016 order has no relation with what was the "the first and the foremost question" determined by the NGT.  

This projects demonstrates how highly polluting technologies like waste incinerator technology are being promoted in the name of climate solution under the supervision of the CDM Executive Board (CDM EB) that supervises the UNFCCC's Kyoto Protocol’s CDM under the authority and guidance of the Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP). The CDM EB is fully accountable to the CMP.  The CDM EB is the ultimate point of contact for CDM Project Participants for the registration of projects and the issuance of Certified Emission Reductions (CERs). For further details you may refer to the letter of ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA) sent to Dr. Subrata Bose,  National Clean Development Mechanism Authority (NCDMA) and Mr. Eduardo Calvo, Chair, Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) Executive Board, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in May and June 2016 “Seeking action against questionable carbon credit/CDM project in Delhi’s Okhla residential and ecologically fragile area (Project: waste to energy project of Timarpur-Okhla Waste Management Co Pvt Ltd)”.  

The violation of the specific conditions made the certificate of Host Country Approval dated 15th May, 2007 given to the project of The Timarpur Waste Management Company Pvt. Ltd. (TWMCPL), a subsidiary of Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services Ltd. (IL&FS) a conditional certificate. This approval was given after its consideration by the NCDMA on 30th March, 2007 but the approval is valid subject to compliance with the given specific conditions. 

It was confirmed based on submissions by the company in question prior to approval and prior to registration with UNFCCC’s CDM Executive Board that “The project contributes to Sustainable Development in India”. It is eminently clear that post registration changes establish beyond any reasonable doubt that the project does not contribute to Sustainable Development and sets a very bad precedent for the country in particular. It puts the communities and the ecosystem of Okhla, Delhi to enormous risk which cannot be deemed acceptable.
The approval conditions state categorically that “This approval is not transferrable. The authority reserves the right to revoke this Host Country Approval if the conditions stipulated in this approval are not complied with to the satisfaction of the National CDM Authority.”
The conditions stipulated in the approval certificate have not been complied with the project in this question. It must be noted that the approval was given to The Timarpur Waste Management Company Pvt. Ltd. (TWMCPL), a subsidiary of Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services Ltd. (IL&FS) but the approval was transferred to Timarpur-Okhla Waste Management Co Pvt Ltd (TOWMCL) of M/s Jindal Urban Infrastructure Limited (JUIL), a company of M/s Jindal Saw Group Limited. This clearly implies that the specific conditions have been violated.
Besides this the approval certificate states “The TOWMCL shall obtain all statutory clearances and other approvals as required from the competent authorities for setting up of the project.”
It is evident from the Validation opinion for post registration changes provided by Det Norske Veritas (DNV) that the “statutory clearances” which were obtained pre registration were not and has not been obtained post registration.  This also clearly shows that Host Country Approval “conditions stipulated” in the approval have not been complied with. This creates a full proof compelling logic for the National CDM Authority which admittedly has the “right to revoke this Host Country Approval” to revoke the approval granted to this project. This creates a compelling logic for the process of revoking the "Host Country Approval" to this project because the "all statutory clearances" which it was required to obtain have become legally questionable.
Meanwhile, TWA has written to Anil Razdan, Chairperson, Experts Appraisal Committee (EAC) on Infrastructure and Miscellaneous Projects sharing evidence of the violation of environmental clearance conditions by Jindal's waste to energy plant in Delhi’s Okhla residential and ecologically fragile area. TWA, a research and advocacy group has been working to prevent such resource incineration projects and tried, tested and failed technologies since 2000. (Gopal Krishna of ToxicsWatch addressing Delhi residents on waste incionerators in Okhla, Narela Bawana & Ghazipur in the presence of )
It is apparent NGT isn’t as sensitive as Delhi High Court on the issue of public health crisis in Okhla due to questionable waste incinerator technology and dubious carbon credit project. NGT’s order of September 9, 2016 reads, "List this matter on 14th September, 2016" for the 49th time. After a total of 76 hearings since 2009 in High Court and NGT, there is no relief in sight for residents and birds of Okhla and its bird sanctuary. 


For Details: Dr Gopal Krishna, ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA), Mb: 9818089660, 08227816731, E-mail-1715krishna@gmail.com, Web: www.toxicswatch.org
 
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