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Rajya Sabha Chairman requested to refer Recycling of Ships Bill, 2019 to Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science & Technology, Environment, Forests & Climate Change

Written By BiharWatch on Thursday, December 05, 2019 | 9:20 PM


Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu
Hon’ble Chairman  
Rajya Sabha
Parliament of India
New Delhi

Date: 05/12/2019

Subject-Request for referring The Recycling Of Ships Bill, 2019 to Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science and Technology, Environment, Forests and Climate Change to safeguard country’s maritime environment from harmful and hazardous wastes and materials      

With reference to the passage of 18 page long The Recycling Of Ships Bill, 2019 from the Lok Sabha on December 3, 2019, I wish to earnestly request you to refer this Bill to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science & Technology, Environment, Forests & Climate Change to safeguard country’s maritime environment from hazardous wastes and materials. I have undertaken research on the subject in question for over a decade and the related aspects of hazardous wastes and materials since 2000 and have been an invitee to the UN bodies, Parliamentary Committees and Hon’ble Supreme Court’s committees for submissions on this subject. On behalf of ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA), I have been an applicant in the Hon’ble Court in an effort to stop India from becoming a dumping of foreign toxic wastes and end-of-life ships. It is noteworthy that India does not have an exhaustive inventory of hazardous wastes and materials with their environmental health impacts.
Having been in conversation with the inter-ministerial Ship Breaking Scrap Committee since July 22, 2014 seeking compliance with the Shipbreaking Code, 2013, Basel Convention, the only international/UN law on ship breaking and having engaged with the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Shipbreaking, Ministry of Steel in the past, I submit that the subject of ship-breaking industry was under the Steel Ministry from 1983 to July 2014 before it 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.
This Bill refers to the International Maritime Organisation (IMO)’s Hong Kong International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships, 2009 which was framed by the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) and the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal, 1989. The Ban Amendment which comes into force today (5 December, 2019) is related to the latter. India is a party to the Basel Convention but not to the latter.
I wish to draw your attention towards enactment of The Bangladesh Ship Recycling Act 2018 which  has been legislated by Jatiya Sangsad on 24 January, 2018 admittedly at the behest of foreign lobbies who wish 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 cots. I am enclosing a copy of the Bangladesh Ship Recycling Act 2018 (Bangla text).  I have reliably learnt that that some foreign global shipping lobbies are work 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)" which has not come into force because shipbreakers, environmental and labour groups of India, Bangladesh and Pakistan are opposed to it as it is anti-environment, anti-workers and contrary to supreme national interest. 
I submit that these lobbies have succeeded in Bangladesh. A bill titled, 'Bangladesh Ship Recycling Bill, 2018,' was passed in their parliament in January 2018. The Bill was introduced by their Industries Minister Mr Amir Hossain Amu and it was passed by voice vote. Under the new law, a 13-member Board is supposed to be constituted to oversee the activities of the ship recycling industries with an additional secretary of the Ministry of Industries as its chairman in Bangladesh.
I submit  that ahead of the entry into force of the Ban Amendment to Basel Convention which prohibits dumping of hazardous wastes and end-of-life products in myriad disguises, it seemed surprising that on 20th November, 2019, Press Information Bureau, Government of India announced that Cabinet has approved “proposal for enactment of Recycling of Ships Bill, 2019 and accession to the Hong Kong International Convention for Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships, 2009.” It seems the Cabinet which rightly acknowledges that “The ship-recycling industry is a labour-intensive sector, but it is susceptible to concerns on environmental safety” has been 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.   
I submit that that the Parliamentary Committee on Science and Technology, Environment, Forests and Climate Change may be asked to examine the compelling logic for India to ratify the Ban Amendment that prohibits the export of hazardous waste from more developed to less developed countries and to examine reasons for recommending why India should not ratify the Hong Kong Convention.
I submit that it is a matter of distressed that 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 Hon’ble 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. M.G.K. Menon headed 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. Our 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? 
I submit that passage of The Recycling of Ships Bill, 2019 by Rajya Sabha will tantamount to ratification of the Hong Kong Convention which facilitates trade in hazardous wastes related to end-of-life ships, which are also hazardous wastes as per Basel Convention. How can this  happen in a business as usual manner unmindful of Hon’ble Prime Minister’s Clean India Mission and Hon’ble Court’s verdict. This position is inconsistent with 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 Hon’ble Prime Minister’s Clean India Mission.
According to the verdict of Hon’ble 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 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 Hon’ble 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. Hon’ble Court took cognizance of dumping of hazardous wastes in Indian waters as violation of Article 14 and 21 of the Constitution of India. It is evident from it that the position of this Indian delegate betrays his ignorance about the issue;
I wish inform you that such motivated 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. It is noteworthy that in a study, Associated Chambers of Commerce & Industry (ASSOCHAM) also recommended ban on trade in hazardous wastes. Two members of Hon’ble Court's own monitoring committee on hazardous wastes have 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 by the Parliamentary Committee.
I wish to draw your attention towards Basel Convention’s very clear and simple definition of waste: wastes are materials which are disposed of, or intended to be disposed of, or required to be disposed of, to the environment”. Hon’ble 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 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";
I submit that 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.
Sir, you may recollect that by decision III/1, of September 22, 1995, at COP-3, the Third meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties to the above Convention that took place in Geneva in September 1995, adopted an Amendment to the Convention. This bans the export of hazardous wastes for final disposal and recycling from rich countries to poorer countries. This Article reads as follows: “Instruments of ratification, approval, formal confirmation or acceptance of amendments shall be deposited with the Depositary. Amendments adopted in accordance with paragraphs 3 or 4 [of article 17 of the Convention] shall enter into force between Parties having accepted them on the ninetieth day after the receipt by the Depositary of their instrument of ratification, approval, formal confirmation or acceptance by at least three-fourths of the Parties who accepted them or by at least two thirds of the Parties to the protocol concerned who accepted them, except as may otherwise be provided in such protocol. The amendments shall enter into force for any other Party on the ninetieth day after that Party deposits its instrument of ratification, approval, formal confirmation or acceptance of the amendments.” 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.
I submit that under the influence of countries like USA, Germany, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, South Korea and Japan in general and U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the world’s largest business federation representing the interests of more than 3 million businesses, International Chamber of Commerce, US Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries and 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 Basel Convention, Ban Amendment and compliant Rules to come into force.

I submit that the Parliamentary Committee on Science and Technology, Environment, Forests and Climate Change may be requested to examine how as part of Clean India Mission, our Government 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. 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. Shri 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.” 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 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.

I submit that 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.

In view of the above facts, I wish to request you to save India from becoming the dumping ground of rich countries by referring The Recycling of Ships Bill, 2019 to the above mentioned Parliamentary Committee. 

Thanking you in anticipation

warm regards
Gopal Krishna
E-mail: 1715krishna@gmail.com
Web: www.toxicswatch.org 

Why teachers, workers and trade unions protesting against use of biometric timekeeping system

Written By BiharWatch on Wednesday, August 21, 2019 | 1:44 AM

Unmindful of the political resistance against biometric attendance and biometric timekeeping in UK, Australia, New Zealand, USA and in several regions and sectors in India, mainstream political parties including those of socialist persuasion have maintained silence. They have feigned ignorance about protests against the implementation of biometric attendance system i.e. an attendance system. There has been protest against biometric attendance in Durgapur Steel Plant, Steel Authority of India Ltd. The management introduced the Biometric Attendance Recording System with disciplinary actions. Hindustan Steel Workers Union, Durgapur Steel Plant protested against “illegal and illegitimate capturing of fingerprints  of employees and implementation of “Biometric Attendance Recording System” without any lawful authority and in violation of Article-21 of the Constitution of India and other related statutes.”[i] 

(Photo: Letter of Hindustan Steel Workers Union, Durgapur Steel Plant to CEO of Durgapur Steel Plant)

The Delhi University Teachers’ Association (DUTA) and Delhi University College Karamchari Union (DUCKU) also protested against the installation and implementation of Bio Metric Attendance system. All schools, colleges, universities and research centres under State Governments and Central Government have introduced and are introducing the procedure of Unique Identification (UID)/Aadhaar Biometric Attendance Recording System and CCTV system for students, teachers and non-teaching employees. It is mandatory in both private and public institutions. The capturing of fingerprints and iris scan and CCTV is illegal and illegitimate. There has been demands for their stoppage of such initiatives which seem to pave the way for genetic determinism and legitimization of eugenic thinking.[ii] Meanwhile, the students and teachers and non-teaching staff are being coerced to enrol for UID/Aadhaar.

 UID/Aadhaar Enabled Biometric Attendance System (AEBAS) has been designed for government organizations by the Government of India to improve the productivity of employees. The system authenticates attendance using Unique Identification (UID)/Aadhaar number created by Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI). It is a cloud based building automation system (BAS) that monitors attendance of government employees in real-time. It is claimed that UID/Aadhaar based attendance system provide employees with the option of easy attendance marking, without having to manually enter their UID/Aadhaar number. It is also claimed that it is “designed for long term, uninterrupted performance with prudent blend of aesthetics, speed, connectivity, convenience and reliability” amidst numerous uninterrupted reports of unreliability of UID/Aadhaar including academic studies pointing out the ugliness and cruelty of starvation deaths due to denial of subsidies, benefits and services.

The proponents of biometric time and attendance system claim that it has brought more precise system to measure group or individual’s activities and attendance. The biometric attendance machine works by capturing unique biological features of individuals such as hand or finger print, iris pattern, voice or DNA as a record for identity verification and allows individuals to perform something that which individuals are obligated or authorized to do. It counts employees’ work schedule, like which employee did what, and at what time did she/he do it. It is claimed that it is a fool proof technology that ensures the accuracy of attendance and dealings with large number of employees.

The claims of interested parties and corporate beneficiaries and proponents is not surprising but the meek submission of most trade unions and opposition parties is intriguing. The lesson from the rebellion of U.K.’s trade against biometric employee scanning is yet to be learnt in India.[iii] U.K. trade union rebels against biometric employee scanning and tracking. It is significant that a major trade union in Australia opposed plans by the government’s welfare body to start using voice biometrics in contact centres.[iv] Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) resisted the introduction of biometric call monitoring and performance management software into frontline client service. The proposed monitoring included voice biometrics recording that tracks the way staff and customers talk. It is germane to note that Australia has abandoned its UID/Aadhaar like National ID project.

In USA, the initiative of collecting biometric data of employees has brought forth the issue of its propriety and its conflict with labour rights and legal provisions.[v] This has created a compulsion for the contractors to bargain with trade unions when it is clear the biometric system is likely to subject employees to additional discipline or increased oversight. The employers are generally not permitted to implement biometric system unless union representatives agree to its use. Some states have framed legal protections for employees with respect to the use of bio­metric technology. New York prohibits employers from requiring employees to be fingerprinted as a condition of employment. Some states have placed conditions on a private or commercial entity’s collection and use of biometric information, based on informed consent. They provide guidance on storage and destruction of such collected data. There is a legal requirement that imposes duty on the data collector to provide notice to individuals whenever security breach occurs. West Virginia federal court found that religious views of an employee conflicted with an employer’s use of biometric technology and ruled that he was entitled to a religious accommodation under federal anti-discrimination law.

In New Zealand, the Employment Court has adjudicated on this issue in OCS Limited v Food Workers Union Nga RingaTota Inc & Anor WN WC 15/06 on 31st August, 2006 and directed that employers will need to consult with employees and obtain their consent before introducing the system of collection of biometric data and the technology needs to be compatible with the contractual obligations of the parties.The employer must take reasonable steps to inform employees of the new measures and to obtain their consent.[vi]

In India, the Khan Mazdoor Karmachari Union (IFTU-Sarwahara) (Mine Workers Employee Union (IFTU-Sarwahara)) protested against this system installed by the management in the Jhanjhra, a fully mechanised mine of Eastern Coalfields Ltd, situated in Raniganj, district Burdwan in West Bengal. 

Their pamphlet titled Bio-Metric Attendance: An attempt to enslave the workers reads:

Despite severe protest by the workers and unions, the Jhanjhra Area Management is implementing an anti-worker biometric attendance system i.e. an attendance system by way of biometric scanning of eyes and the whole face. Apart from this biometric attendance system, there is also a hurried move to install CCTV inside the mines and offices and thereafter, provide the workers GPRS-enabled caps so that the management can keep the workers and employees under continuous strict surveillance…Let’s see why it is necessary for the workers to oppose the biometric attendance and CCTV installation.
First, via this system of attendance, the biometric machine will scan our faces and eyes and keep them online on computer/internet. This fact in itself is illegal, dangerous and worth pondering. Why? Firstly, because the scanned photograph can be, intentionally or unintentionally, misused by any agency (the one that will be privy or have access to the data.). For instance, if any terrorist organization gains access to this data, then it can be used with catastrophic repercussion. We would like to raise the question: in such an eventuality, who will be responsible? The situation accentuates in case of female workers and employees.
It will cast severe question mark on their integrity and respect. Keeping these things in mind only, in a similar instance i.e. Aadhaar Card (Unique Identification System) the Supreme Court gave a verdict, in which, it categorically said that forcibly implementing the biometric identification infringes on the fundamental right of privacy. It is a well-established covenant world over that without permission no one, not even the Government, can keep physical identification of a person. The constitution of India, as is well known, prohibits any agency/ management/ institution, whatsoever it may be, from keeping such data as physical identification of a person under its control and access without one’s due permission
Second, we do not know, nor the management has informed us on the radiations emitted by the scanning machine, but, on the other hand, the workers will have to undergo scanning of their faces and eyes twice a day. Who knows what will be the impact of it on our eyes and faces! Whether management has undertaken concrete scientific investigation about it, we do not know this, too. We demand to know who will be responsible for the possible long term deadly after-effects of the Scanning Machine’s radiation.
Third, how it will have impact on the extra time involved for the attendance of the worker.
Let’s assume that there are 100 workers standing in front of the machine to punch-in their attendance, if one worker takes minimum of 30 seconds (though in reality it may take much more), then for the last worker it will take extra 50 minutes to punch-in his/her attendance. That means he/she will have to leave for the work 50 minutes before the schedule. Same will be the case for punch-out. Who will be responsible for this wastage of time and who will compensate for this loss?
Fourth, the confidence of workers is vital. In case of the machine malfunctioning or it being out of order, or if it fails to record attendance even after saying “thank you” i.e. in case of false recording of attendance, and hence in case of attendance dispute arising there from, what proof will the worker have in his possession to claim that he was present?
Fifth, similarly what will happen for driller, dresser, explosive carrier and short firer? As is evident from the design of things appearing through biometric, pressure on them to enhance workload is bound to increase.
Sixth, as is becoming as clear as day light from the above facts, it is ludicrous as to why the management is wasting at all a fortune as big as thousands of lakhs or crores of rupees on installing the biometric system. It has been clarified above that there is no worth, as is being claimed over board by the management, in installing this machine; on the contrary, it is anti-workers, dangerous and one that will fuel unnecessary debate and unrest. Actually the main intention of the ECL managements is to have total control over the life of workers that is simply excessive and unnecessary.
Seventh, one of the arguments given by management is that it will increase production. The motive of installing CCTV inside the mines and offices, too, has to be seen in this light. In reality, the intention of the management is to increase the production by way of excessively pressurising the workers. The truth, however, is that precondition of increasing production is that workers must have a joyful family life. It is vital that the worker gets the necessary 8 hours of leisure, their homes are clean and healthy, they get proper transport and there are such safety measures as are necessary to make the mines safe for the workers. But the management seldom thinks of bringing these qualitative changes in. The management has not been able to even provide clean drinking water to the homes of the workers. Electricity supply is simply pathetic and the workers quarters are such that one cannot even use gas cylinder. The state of cleanliness of their colonies is an open secret. Under such inhuman conditions, how can workers increase production?

While those who have accepted admittedly “inherently fallible” biometric technology based UID/Aadhaar as a fait accompli remains occupied with the differences that arise between the contractor and the individuals whose sensitive information is being collected with regard to the requirements for consent, the length of time biometric information may be stored and protocols for its destruction, those who are convinced about its unscientific nature contend that linking of biometric UID/Aadhaar number to all services including biometric timekeeping is designed to cause civil death.[vii] Civil death is the loss of all or almost all civil rights by a person, caused by the government of a country. Now it is apparent that the denial of rights in the absence of UID/Aadhaar is an act of coercion wherein people are being compelled to share their personal, sensitive biological information; else they will face civil death.

Gopal Krishna 

The author a law and public policy researcher, and editor of www.toxicswatch.org. He had appeared before the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance which examined the National Identification Authority of India Bill, 2010  

[i] Krishna, Gopal (2014). Protest Against Biometric Attendance System, https://www.moneylife.in/article/protest-against-biometric-attendance-system/39773.html, 09 December
[ii] Written Testimony before People’s Tribunal on Attack on Educational Institutions in India, 13 April 2018, https://kractivist.org/testimony-of-citizens-forum-for-civil-liberties-cfcl-against-aadhaar-and-cctv-surveillance-in-educational-campuses/
[iii] Osborne, Charlie (2013). U.K. trade union rebels against biometric employee scanning, September 17, https://www.zdnet.com/article/uk-trade-union-rebels-against-biometric-employee-scanning/
[iv] (2015). Australian trade union slams voice biometrics plan, 19 March, https://www.planetbiometrics.com/article-details/i/2832/
[v] M. Gallagher, Claire (2017). Is It OK To Fingerprint Your Employees?, May 3,
[vi] Drake, Anthony (2018). New Zealand: Is it OK to collect biometric data from workers?, 21 March, http://www.mondaq.com/NewZealand/x/684766/employee+rights+labour+relations/Is+it+OK+to+collect+biometric+data+from+workers
[vii] Krishna, Gopal (2017) Will Aadhaar Cause Death of Civil Rights?, March 23, https://www.businesstoday.in/current/economy-politics/will-aadhaar-cause-death-of-civil-rights/story/248331.html

Preliminary comments on "Hazardous and Other Wastes (Management& Transboundary Movement) Amendment Rules, 2019

Written By BiharWatch on Monday, June 03, 2019 | 11:32 PM

  • The Hazardous and Other Wastes (Management & Transboundary Movement) Amendment Rules, 2019 is legally flawed and suffers from poverty of imagination for environmental protection because total prohibition on import into the country is is confined only to "Solid plastic waste". The pre-existing Section 2 (2) of the Plastic Waste Management (Amendment) Rules, 2018 had exempted "export oriented units or units in special economic zones,notified by the Central Government, manufacturing their products against an order for export". In a limited way it gives an impression that it rectifies the error which was introduced through Plastic Waste Management (Amendment) Rules, 2018 by diluting the Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016 under the influence foreign and Indian plastic wastetraders. It does not address the ongoing Transboundary Movement of hazardous waste within the territory of India. The fact remains even this amendment should have been done in the Plastic Waste Management (Amendment) Rules, 2018. These amendments required wider public publication before its notification. 
  • The reference to "Hazardous and Other Wastes (Management & Transboundary Movement) Rules, 2016" is noteworthy because these Rules define “import”, which means "bringing into India from a place outside India" and “importer” which means "an occupier or any person who imports hazardous and other waste". As per this Rules, “transboundary movement” means any movement of hazardous or other wastes form an area under the jurisdiction of one country to or through an area under the jurisdiction of another country or to or through an area not under the jurisdiction of any country, provided that at least two countries are involved in the movement. It reveals that "transboundary movement" of hazardous has become part of ministry's sound environmental management approach. This term was introduced in 2008 apparently under the influence of hazardous waste traders when the pre-existing Hazardous WasteRules were amended. This term has been lifted from UN’s Basel Convention on Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal. 
  • It is contrary to the UN's Basel Convention which aims “to minimize the generation of hazardous wastes in terms of quantity and hazardousness; to dispose of them as close to the source of generation as possible; to reduce the transboundry movement of hazardous wastes.” It is quite evident that the new Rules are contrary to the objective of the UN Convention to which India is a party.  Basel Convention was made part of its order by Supreme Court of India 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 violation of Article 14 and 21 of the Constitution of India.  
  • Chapter III of the Rules deals with "import and export of hazardous and other wastes". Clause 11 of the 2016 Rules provides that "The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change shall be the nodal Ministry to deal with the transboundary movement of the hazardous wastes in accordance with the provisions of these rules." Clause 12 (2) reads: "The import of hazardous and other wastes form any country shall be permitted only for the recycling or recovery or reuse." Such permission for import of hazardous waste for "recycling or recovery or reuse" is an attempt to define waste as non-waste. This is an act designed to re-define end-of-life product as non-waste. It is akin to defining waste as non-new good.  It is an exercise in linguistic corruption. This has apparently been done to pander to the interests of international and national hazardous waste traders. Clause 13 (1) reads:  The import and export of the hazardous and other wastes specified in Schedule III, shall be regulated in accordance with the conditions laid down in the said Schedule.  
  • Hazardous and Other Wastes (Management & Transboundary Movement) Amendment Rules, 2019 reveals that trade in hazardous waste is happening in a business as usual manner.   
  • The inclusion of the provision of "importing back" defective "Electrical and electronic assemblies and components manufactured in and exported from India, if found defective" within a year of export seems to be happening under the influence foreign companies and countries. In the absence of robust regulatory mechanism in this regard, this provision can be exploited by unscrupulous traders in electrical and electronic assemblies and components. CAG must audit its implementation at the earliest opportunity. 
  • This provision of Hazardous and Other Wastes (Management & Transboundary Movement) Amendment Rules, 2019 must be read with the circular of Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) dated November 2, 2018 sent to all State Pollution Control Boards (SPCBs) on the subject of "Directions Under Section 18(1)(B) of The Water (Prevention & Control of Pollution) Act, 1974 And The Air (Prevention & Control of Pollution) Act, 1981 Regarding Streamlining Of Consent Mechanism". 
  • This provision about exemption from requirement of consent and authorization also under the Hazardous and Other Wastes (Management & Transboundary Movement) Rules, 2016 will be deeply detrimental to the cause of environmental protection and compliance with the Hazardous and Other Wastes (Management & Transboundary Movement) Rules, 2016. Given the fact that under Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act 1974 and Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act 1981, it is for  the State Pollution Control Boards (SPCBs) and Pollution Control Committees (PCCs) of Union Territories which give consent and authorisation under these two Acts, the provision stating that  "environmental surveillance of industries should be on random basis, and SPCBs/PCCs shall evolve mechanism for that" instead of 24X7 environmental surveillance on a regular basis paves the way for very serious disruption of existing regulatory mechanisms. 
  • Such directions have already been implemented in some States who have exempted over 100 categories of industries from Hazardous and Other Wastes(Management & Transboundary Movement) Rules, 2016 and Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act 1974 and Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act 1981 without waiting for the 2019 Rules to be notified. This is fraught with unprecedented adverse consequences for environmental health and related disease burden. Such disruption is totally unacceptable. 
  • The condition of handing over "hazardous and other wastes generated by such industries" to "authorized actual users, waste collectors or disposal facilities" for availing these exemptions does not inspire even an iota of confidence because "disposal facilities" for hazardous wastes are almost non-existent and hazardous "waste collectors" are simply dumping or incinerating them making environmental problems more complex by making the contaminants invisible.

Gopal Krishna

Press Information Bureau
Government of India

Amendment in Hazardous Waste (Management& Transboundary Movement) Rules, 2016

Dated: 06th March 2019
New Delhi

In order to strengthen the implementation of environmentally sound management of hazardous waste in the country, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has amended the Hazardous and Other Wastes (Management & Transboundary Movement) Rules, 2016 vide notification G.S.R.  G.S.R. XX (E), dated 01 March 2019.

The amendment has been done keeping into consideration the “Ease of Doing Business” and boosting “Make in India” initiative by simplifying the procedures under the Rules, while at the same time upholding the principles of sustainable development and ensuring minimal impact on the environment.

Some of the salient features of the Hazardous and Other Wastes (Management& Transboundary Movement) Amendment Rules, 2019 are as follows:

      1.      Solid plastic waste has been prohibited from import into the country including in Special Economic Zones (SEZ) and by Export Oriented Units (EOU).
      2.      Exporters of silk waste have now been given exemption from requiring permission from the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.
      3.      Electrical and electronic assemblies and components manufactured in and exported from India, if found defective can now be imported back into the country, within a year of export, without obtaining permission from the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.
      4.      Industries which do not require consent under Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act 1974 and Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act 1981, are now exempted from requiring authorization also under the Hazardous and Other Wastes (Management & Transboundary Movement) Rules, 2016, provided that hazardous and other wastes generated by such industries are handed over to the authorized actual users, waste collectors or disposal facilities.

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