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18 pesticides banned, 48 pesticides like Monocrotophos, Paraquat Dichloride, Glyphosate yet to be banned

Written By Gopal Krishna on Friday, January 13, 2017 | 2:01 AM

ToxicsWatch
To

Shri Surendrajeet Singh Ahluwalia
Union Minister of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare
Government of India
New Delhi

Date: January 13, 2017

Subject- Appreciation for your decision to ban 18 pesticides & demand for phase out of organophosphate-containing insecticides like Monocrotophos as part of the remaining 48 pesticides whose use cannot be justified

Sir,

This is to express our appreciation for the Notification dated December 15, 2016 published in the Gazette of India by the Union Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare (Department of Agriculture, Co-operation and Farmers Welfare) that announces your decision to ban manufacture, import, formulate, transport, sell and use of 18 of the 66 pesticides which are still registered for domestic use in India but banned or restricted in one or more other countries due to health and environmental concern.
While we welcome the announcement of ban on hazardous pesticides like Benomyl, Carbary, Diazinon, Fenarimol, Fenthion, Linuron, Methoxy Ethyl Mercury Chloride (MEMC), Methyl Parathion, Sodium Cyanide, Thiometon, Tridemorph, Trifluralin, Alachlor, Dichlorvos, Phorate, Phosphamidon, Triazophos and Trichlorfon, we submit that the non-inclusion of Paraquat Dichloride and Glyphosate, highly hazardous herbicides in the decision is a significant omission which must be promptly remedied. As you aware Paraquat Dichloride has been banned in the State of Kerala but it continues to be used in the remaining parts of our country. It is noteworthy that Paraquat Dichloride is a candidate for the Prior Informed Consent (PIC) list of UN’s Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade. The use of Paraquat Dichloride is banned in Switzerland, which the home country of Syngenta, the main producer of Paraquat Dichloride since 1989 due to its high acute toxicity for humans. It is banned or disallowed in some 32 countries due to its adverse health effects. Glyphosate has been classified as a carcinogenic chemical by World Health Organisation (WHO).
We demand phase out of the remaining 48 pesticides as well because their continued use cannot be scientifically and medically justified. As a best scientific practice to safeguard the health of Indians government should initiate a process to review all other pesticides registered for use in our country for their adverse impact of environmental and occupational health in rigorous coordination with ministries of health, environment, consumer affairs and chemicals in order to come up with specific remedial actions.
Pursuant to our letter dated September 21, 2016 in the matter of failure of Central Insecticide Board in Bihar insecticide tragedy and phase out of organophosphate-containing insecticides like Monocrotophos, we submit that similar action is required for organophosphate-containing insecticides and all the 48 pesticides.  
You may recollect that Monocrotophos, the insecticide 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. We are saddened to note 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”. 
In a significant and related development, on August, 29, 2016, Shri Vijay Anand Tiwari, Additional District Judge II of Saran (Chhapra) Court, Bihar 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.   

It is high time our country stopped transboundary movement of hazardous chemicals by creating an inventory of hazardous chemicals besides conducting an environmental and occupational health audit along with the ministry of health to ascertain the body burden through investigation of industrial chemicals, pollutants and pesticides in umbilical cord blood. In one such study in the US, of the 287 chemicals detected in umbilical cord blood, 180 were known to cause cancer in humans or animals, 217 are toxic to the brain and nervous system, and 208 cause birth defects or abnormal development in  animal tests. Absence of such studies in India does not mean that a similar situation does not exist in India. Until and unless we diagnose the current unacknowledged crisis, how will he regulatory bodies predict, prevent and provide remedy. Currently, our country is a victim of the unfolding Lawrence Summers Principle. Lawrence Summers, former director of the White House's National Economic Council for US President Barack Obama as a World Bank chief economist, sent a memo to one of his subordinates justifying transfer of harmful chemicals from developed countries to developing countries.  Our decision makers should factor in these malevolent motives of international financial institutions, foreign companies and governments.

We submit that our ecological space is a living entity but it is faced with the cannibalistic propensities of illegitimately totalitarian scientism which is married with political consensus. Its linear, piecemeal and closed technological thinking fails to acknowledge that no unlimited development is possible in the nature of things.

We express our support to you in resisting the influence of lobbying through their objections or suggestions by industry associations which give priority to profit over any human and environmental cost. 

In view of the above facts and the ongoing food chain poisoning, we earnestly and solemnly urge you to intervene urgently 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, Paraquat Dichloride, Glyphosate and other pesticides to protect public health of the present and future generations.

Thanking You

Yours faithfully
Dr Gopal Krishna
Editor, ToxicsWatch
Mb: 09818089660, 08227816731

Cc
Shri Radha Mohan Singh, Union Minister of Agriculture
Chairman, Central Insecticides Board, Union Ministry of Agriculture



Environmental Impacts of GM crops

Written By Gopal Krishna on Wednesday, January 11, 2017 | 1:06 AM

To

Smt Renuka Chowdhary
Chairperson
Parliamentary Standing Committee (PSC) on Science & Technology, Environment & Forests
New Delhi 

  
Through Shri Rajeev Saxena, PSC on Science & Technology, Environment & Forests


Subject: Request for Submission of views/evidence on Environmental Impacts of GM crops

Madam,

With due respect we wish to state that we have learnt that PSC on Science & Technology, Environment & Forests has chosen "Environmental Impacts of GM crops" as one of its subjects of study, we wish to make submissions on behalf of ToxicsWatch in this regard.

We submit that the entire country cannot and should not be turned into a big laboratory and all Indians into lab rats for GM experiments.

We submit that the claims on the yield increases from GM crops are questionable. It is only aimed at seducing farmers into a vice like grip of market controlled seeds and herbicide combination for the benefit of agri-business corporations. It is noteworthy that it is the import tariffs for edible oil which has destroyed the market for them, affecting production of indigenous edible oils. It is evident that no
GM technology can solve this engineered crisis.

We submit that the opposition to GM food crops has also become louder across the country. Those opposing GM crops say that the monoculture will affect the existing biodiversity of mustard in India and in effect it will be a shortcut to long term misery. It will put an additional burden on farmers, who have to purchase seeds, fertilizers, and pesticides every year.

We submit that the history of GM cotton itself has been splattered with the blood of thousands of farmer suicides in western India.  They also assert that ‘Genetic Engineering’ is an unnatural and imprecise breeding technology with living organisms and there is enough evidence that it is an unstable, unpredictable, irreversible and uncontrollable technology being deployed in our food and farming system. This then has serious implication for our health and environment.  Further, increased riskiness in agriculture, lack of choices for farmers and consumers, market rejection are all consequences of the environmental release of GMOs. GM crops would be “disastrous” for self-sustaining farmers as it would eventually open the doors for multinational corporations to control India’s agriculture.

We submit that the scientifically questionable issues behind controversial GM crops need critical analysis and feedback before it gets into our field and our kitchen. We seek your personal intervention for disclosure of all the relevant data, independent scrutiny providing sufficient time and hold public consultations.

In view of the above facts, we demand that lessons from industrial disaster of Bhopal caused by Union Carbide Corporation create a compelling logic for decision-making on GM crops be withheld.

We will be happy to share more information and relevant documents in this regard. We want to provide you inputs on this matter and request you for granting me an opportunity to make personal appearance before you.






India all set to accept New Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs)?

Written By Gopal Krishna on Monday, January 02, 2017 | 10:30 PM

India continues to lag behind by operating under 2004 UN Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) without accepting the subsequent amendments. Serious public health concerns create a compelling logic for India to ratify all the New POPs in the new year. 

India is one of those countries which not accepted any New POPs but operating is under 2004 treaty. The other such countries are: Australia, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Russian Federation, Slovenia, Vanuatu and Venezuela. Notably, Israel, Italy, USA, Malaysia, Malta, Brunei Darussalam and Haiti are non-Parties to the Convention. The Eight Conference of Parties (COP8) of Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants will take up the listing of three more substances: DecaBDE, Short-chain chlorinated paraffins, and HCBD in May 2017.

At present the treaty’s POPs Review Committee is evaluating two more substances for addition to the Convention: dicofol and PFOA. The Convention started with a list of 12 POPs (Dirty Dozen) in 2004. In due course 14 more POPs have been added to the Convention’s list of POPs. The 14 New POPs are:
1.    Chlordecone
2.      Hexabromobiphenyl
3.      Pentachlorobenzene
4.      Lindane
5.      Alpha hexachlorocyclohexane
6.      Beta hexachlorocyclohexane
7.      Tetrabromodiphenyl ether and pentabromodiphenyl ether
(commercial PentaBDE)
8.      Hexabromodiphenyl ether and heptabromodiphenyl ether
(commercial OctaBDE)
9.      Perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), its salts, and PFOSF
1.     Endosulfan
1.     Hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD)
1.   Hexachlorobutadiene (HCBD)
1.     Pentachlorophenol (PCP)
1.     Polychlorinated naphthalenes (PCNs)

The last three-Hexachlorobutadiene (HCBD), Pentachlorophenol (PCP) and Polychlorinated naphthalenes (PCNs) were added to the treaty at COP7 in 2015.

When a substance is added to the Stockholm Convention, the ban applies to most countries unless they write the Secretariat saying that they cannot accept it. However, a small group of countries has an arrangement which automatically rejects a new listing unless they write the Secretariat to accept it. This is supposed to give countries a chance to have a little time to facilitate elimination. However, in practice some countries use this as an excuse not to do anything.

The countries with this special arrangement referred to as “opt-in” include India. The other such countries are: Argentina, Australia, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Botswana, Canada, China, Estonia, Guatemala, Mauritius, Micronesia, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Russian Federation, Slovenia, Vanuatu, and Venezuela. The Convention’s secretariat is yet to provide news about the three remaining New POPs.
For more details visit:

Lawlessness in Okhla after expiry of consent to operate given to Jindal's power plant

ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA)

To

Shri Anil Baijal
Lieutenant Governor
Government of N.C.T. of Delhi
Delhi

January 2, 2017

Subject-
Lawlessness in Okhla after expiry of consent to operate; provisional authorization too expired on December 31, 2016

Sir,

This is to draw your attention towards a specific case of the lawlessness in Okhla that is setting a very bad precedent now that the after expiry of consent to operate, even the provisional authorization of for municipal solid waste (MSW) based thermal power plant of 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 has expired on December 31, 2016.

We submit that the minutes of the meeting held on 24/06/2016 under the Chairmanship of Chief Secretary, Government of NCT of Delhi to implement the orders of National Green Tribunal in the matter of Original Application No. 22/2013 reveals that “Regarding Okhla plant it was informed by the DPCC, that as per the decision taken by Consent Management Committee (CMC) in its 26th meeting held on 11/3/2016 the plant may operate on provisional basis and improve its emission standards to 30 mg/Nm3  as per direction of DPCC/Hon’ble NGT for transitional period till 31/12/2016. The Chief Secretary, Delhi, desired that the Chairman DPCC should take a meeting with all the stake holders, and an all out effort should be made to improve emission standards before 31/12/2016”. (Source: Department of Urban Development, Government of NCT of Delhi dated 06.07.2016 (F.N 13/56/CC/MB/UD/2016/1327-1341). It is quite clear from this minute that after the expiry of consent to operate, provisional authorization too has expired on December 31, 2016. 

We submit that the official documents reveal how conditions of Land Allotment to New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC), the municipal council of the city of New Delhi imposed by Delhi Development Agency (DDA) have been breached to facilitate “land grab” for a hazardous waste to power plant in Okhla endangering public health. It may be noted that Indian waste has hazardous waste characteristics.

We submit that a letter dated June 18, 1980 sent from DDA to NDMC on the subject of allotment of land at Okhla for compost plant. The letter specifically states the conditions for the allotment. The letter reads: “The land shall be used by N.D.M.C. for the construction of compost plant and for no other purpose whatsoever.” It further reads: “The land shall not be transferred to any other Department without prior permission of DDA obtained in writing.” Another letter from DDA dated August 4, 1995 sent to N.D.M.C. reiterates: “The allotted land shall be used for the purpose of compost plant and no other purpose whatsoever”. These letters reveals that the allotment of land to NDMC was a conditional allotment subject to compliance with the stated conditions. Given the fact that NDMC has violated these conditions in an apparent exercise of facilitating “land grab” for municipal solid waste (MSW) based thermal power plant of 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.  In a significant disclosure it has come to light that there are two lease deeds for a total of 13.5 acres. NDMC has violated the conditions imposed by DDA with regard to both of them.

We submit that a September 2008 document of Infrastructure Leasing & Finance Services (IL&FS) Infrastructure Development Corporation Ltd focused on Timarpur-Okhla integrated municipal waste facility referred to contractual framework and mentioned about “Land License Agreement for Okhla and Timarpur land for use of land for 25 years” and Shri Anurag Goyal, the then Director Projects, NDMC was recorded saying, “NDMC provided land as its equity to the project.”

It is noteworthy that Appellate Tribunal for Electricity for New Delhi headed by Justice Surendra Kumar and Mr Rakesh Nath recorded on 19th May, 2015 a submission about “Land leased by NDMC on nominal rate” as part of “promotional steps were taken to promote Timarpur Okhla’s Plant” as part of its Judgment in Appeal Nos. 251 of 2013 and 325 of 2013.  The company Timarpur-Okhla Waste Management Company Ltd (TOWMCL) Old NDMC Compost Plant, Behind Central Road Research Institute (CRRI), Mathura Road, New Delhi was appellant.

We submit that the documents from 1980, 1995, 2008 and 2015 create a compelling logic for DDA to cancel the land allotment to NDMC and ensure that the land from TOWMCL is taken back and given to DDA.

We submit that as you are aware even a minor change with regard to land use is required to published in the Gazette notification but the same has not been done. Had DDA permitted changes in land use at Okhla, it would have published a similar Gazette notification.

We have been struggling against this project in question since March 2005. Besides violating all the environmental clearance conditions and conditions laid down in the No Objection Certificate under Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981 and the plant Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974, this plant has violated the Battery Limit as well. It is noteworthy that the waste incinerator based thermal power plant is located exactly in the vicinity of the residential colonies.

We are at a loss to comprehend as to why has Delhi Government not acted to save public health in the face hazards from a highly polluting plant which has violated every environmental norm and caused serious public health crisis. Unmindful of the demands of the environmental groups and residents who seek closure of the plant, the Chief Secretary has been paying lip-service about making efforts to “improve emission standards.” This is manifestly misleading given the fact that emission standards fixed by law have to be complied with and in the case of non-compliance the plant has to be shut down for good.  The legality of allowing the plant to operate with “provisional” consent following withdrawal of consent to operate is highly questionable. Given the fact that all the relevant clearances were granted for RDF technology, not for the unapproved Chinese technology which has been used by the company, the grant of provisional consent demonstrates collusion and connivance of the DPCC and Delhi Government. Its reference to NGT’s order for doing so is an exercise in creative construction of legal argument to justify the environmental lawlessness in the national capital.

We submit that the plant is amidst residential colonials and institutions of national importance like Central Road Research Institute, Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology and the Indian Institute of Information Technology.  Such toxic emissions from the Jindal's power plant in an ecologically sensitive area and thickly populated area has become a routine affair with all the concerned authorities turning a blind eye towards this illegitimate and illegal act. Besides violating the Master Plan, this plant has violated all the rules in the rule book including environmental clearance conditions.

We submit that this power plant of TOWMCL was supposed to use RDF technology but it is using an unapproved Chinese technology brought to light by the report of Technical Experts Evaluation Committee headed by Chairman, Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) prepared pursuant to 22th March 2011 dated order of the Union Minister of Environment & Forests. This constitutes deviations from approved technology. The Chinese technology provider is from Hangzhou New Century Company Ltd of Hangzhou Boiler Group. The High Powered Technical Experts Evaluation Committee of CPCB in its 31 page report on the Timarpur-Okhla Waste to Energy Incinerator Plant brought to light the illegalities committed by Jindal's TOWMCL. The report was communicated on March 22, 2012. This report is based on three meetings of the Technical Experts Evaluation Committee held on April 26, 2011, August 11, 2011 and September 22, 2011 under the chairmanship of Chairman, CPCB.

We submit that in a related case in an earlier order Delhi High Court has observed, "10. In Master Plan for Delhi, 2021, notified on 07.02.2007, hazardous waste processing viz. hospital/medical/industrial waste is amongst the industries, manufacturing of which shall be prohibited within National Capital Territory of Delhi." The Court observed that "This is a mandatory requirement of the guidelines issued by CPCB, that such facility should be far away from residential and sensitive areas"

It is may be noted that substitution of technology is prohibited under the provisions of the Environmental Clearance. It is deemed dangerous to according to a report of CSIR-National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI). What is also important is that the consent to operate clearly mentions biomethanation and RDF as the route to energy production and does not provide for incineration at all. This plant is owned by Shri Prithviraj Jindal who won an open tender in 2008 to build and operate the plant for 25 years at a project cost of Rs 240 crore. It is apparent that the owner has ignored the disastrous environmental health consequences of plant’s operations.

We wish to inform you that this plant occupies some 10 acres of green area under the Master Plan of Delhi.  

In view of the above submission, we seek you intervention to ensure compliance with conditions imposed by DDA, relevant environmental rules and consider closure of the Dioxins emitting power plant located in a residential and ecologically sensitive area.

We wish to meet you to share the relevant documents and apprise you of the situation. Kindly grant us the permission for the same.

Yours faithfully
Gopal Krishna,
ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA)
Mb: 08227816731, 09818089660,
E-mail: krishna1715@gmail.com



Parliament seized with Consumer Protection Bill 2015

Central Government is planning to get Consumer Protection Bill 2015 passed in the upcoming Budget Session of the Parliament. In August 2016, the government had introduced the Consumer Protection Bill 2015 in Lok Sabha, to repeal the 30-year-old Consumer Protection Act, 1986. 
A Parliamentary Standing Committee on Food, Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution had also submitted its recommendations in April, 2016. The Bill has incorporated some of the recommendations of the parliamentary committee. The Committee noted that several eminent public personalities or celebrities who are honoured with National Awards such as Padma Shri, Padma Bhushan and Bharat Ratna etc. for excelling in various walks of life are often engaged as Brand Ambassadors  for  promoting  various  products. Such  personalities  are deployed  to  make advertisements  which  are  often misleading  by  making unrealistic claims. The consumers tend to believe such advertisements promoted by eminent personalities or celebrities blindly. However, when the unfair trade practices are exposed the celebrities are quick to disassociate themselves with the products/companies they were hitherto representing. The Committee felt that misrepresentation of a product especially a food product should be taken very seriously considering the influence of celebrities and high net worth individuals  or  companies. The  existing  laws  are  not  deterrent enough  to  discourage  manufacturers  or  publishers  from  using  such  personalities  for misleading advertisements. The Committee has recommended that stringent provisions may be made in the Bill to tackle misleading advertisement, as well as to fix liability on endorsers/celebrities. The Committee recommended that for first time offence, the offender may be penalized with either of a fine of Rs. 10 lakhs and  imprisonment upto two years or both, for second time offence, a fine of Rs. 50 lakhs and imprisonment for five years and for subsequent offences, the penalties may be increased proportionately based on the value of sales volumes of such products or services.

The Committee noted that adulteration of food products is a major issue in the country and to tackle the issue effectively, quality checks of products at various  levels  is  a  must. Though  Food  Safety  and  Standards  Act  provides  for prevention of adulteration in Food, however, there is also urgent 
need for stringent provisions to prevent adulteration in other products like drugs, medicines, fertilizers, pesticides, seeds which are used as inputs by farmers for production of foodgrains etc. as well. The Committee is of the considered view that setting up well equipped laboratories with highly qualified/experienced staff in all parts of the country for  testing ingredients of all edible products would go a long way in addressing the issue of adulteration of products. 

The Committee desired that sufficient  well  equipped  laboratories with  qualified technicians for  checking the quality  of products should be provided right from Central Government level to district level of the respective State Government. 

The Committee recommended that severe penalties be imposed on offenders such as rigorous imprisonment of two years with a fine of Rs. 10 lakhs and suspension of license for a period of two years, rigorous imprisonment of five years with a fine of Rs. 50 lakhs and cancellation of license  for second time offence and for subsequent offences, the penalties may be increased proportionately based on the value of sales volumes of such products or services. 

The Committee desired that the Government may, in consultation with  all  concerned, consider  inserting  suitable  provisions  in  the  Bill  to  make  it mandatory for the Law Enforcement Agency
to take immediate action in cases where a consumer makes complaint of adulteration of products for human consumption by registering First Information Report (FIR) etc. and arrest the accused person(s). If for any reason, the FIR is not registered by the Law Enforcement Agency, it should be 
deemed to have been registered after a lapse of 21 days from the date of complaint. 

The  Committee  observed  that  definition  of  person  in  the  Bill  includes companies  etc.  but has  left  out  local  authorities.  Since  the  Bill  provides  for Product liability which includes service liability also, the Committee are of the view that inclusion of local authorities is necessary to protect consumer rights. The Committee recommended that Local Authority may be included in the appropriate place of the Bill.

The  Committee  noted  that  Bill  defines  'Product  Liability"  as  the responsibility of the manufacturer to provide compensation for any injury caused by defective products or deficiency in service. Thus, the definition of product liability covers  a consumer right to seek compensation for injury caused by deficiency  in  services too.  The  Committee  feel  that  there  is an ambiguity regarding inclusion of services under product liability in the Bill. The Bill lays down conditions for establishing a defect in a product in order to claim product liability. However, it does not specify conditions for establishing deficiency in service in order to claim product liability. 

In the absence of specified condition, it is not clear if the consumer can claim product liability for deficiency in service under the Bill. The Committee, therefore, strongly recommend that the Bill should specify conditions for establishing deficiency in services too, in order to claim product liability.

The Committee noted that the above clause of the Bill does not mention the rights of a consumer. Under the Sale of Goods Act. 1930, the buyer has certain rights to terminate the contract. The Committee, therefore, recommend that the Bill should give consumer a right to terminate the contract on the grounds of quality of goods or services received.

The Committee noted that there is shortage of laboratories to point out the defect/adulteration of products. The Committee is of the opinion that specific laboratories should be set up for specific industries and products preferably district-wise to  eliminate  adulteration  and  safeguard  the  interest  of  the consumers so that they get the right product. 

On invitation from the Committee, ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA) had appeared before the committee  and shared its suggestions for safeguarding the rights of citizens and consumers. Among other submissions, it has suggested that the definition of advertisement under  Section  2(1)  should include  electoral  promises  by  political parties and Section 2(30) which defines "product", should include electronic database and  biometric database as a product. The 103 page long report is available at: 


Make India’s capital free of harmful asbestos based products

Written By Gopal Krishna on Thursday, December 29, 2016 | 11:35 PM

ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA)

To

Chairman
National Human Rights Commission (NHRC)
New Delhi

29 December, 2016

Subject: Make India’s capital free of harmful asbestos based products

Sir,

This is to draw your immediate intervention to make India’s capital free of harmful asbestos based products in view of the statement of Shri Anil Madhav Dave, Union Minister of Environment, Forest & Climate Change Government of India interview with  The  Times  of  India said “Since the use of asbestos is affecting human health, its use should gradually be minimised and eventually end. As far as I know, its use is declining. But it must end…”[1] 

This is in keeping with the 19 page long Vision Statement on Environment and Human Health of your ministry which states ‘4.3.1 Environmental epidemiological studies are required to be carried out near to industrial estates and hazardous waste disposal sites to estimate the extent of health risks including from asbestos. Alternatives to asbestos may be used to the extent possible and use of asbestos may be phased out’.” The relevant URL of Vision Statement on Environment and Human Health is available at www.envfor.nic.in/sites/default/files/visenvhealth.pdf
We submit that our country is consuming 15 % of the total world asbestos production, as per US Geological Survey estimates. As per 2014 data, India used 379,000 tonnes of asbestos, out of which only 270 tonnes were mined in mines whose leases have not yet expired. It has technically banned asbestos mining but it continues to procure it from countries like Russia, Brazil, Kazakhstan and China. The minister’s statement reveals that NHRC is right in its direction which reads: “Replace the asbestos sheets roofing with roofing made up of some other material that would not be harmful to inmates.”[2] NHRC has already decided that asbestos harmful to human health.  It is evident that the NHRC considers asbestos sheets as harmful. It is noteworthy that asbestos fibers used for making asbestos based products like asbestos cement roofs etc is a ticking time bomb for lungs which causes preventable but incurable diseases and deaths.

We submit that Delhi has three factories engaged in handling asbestos namely, Makino Auto Industries (P) Ltd in Shahdara, Brakes International in Udyog Vihar and Minocha Metals (P) Ltd in Patparganj Industrial Area.

We submit that these companies should be asked to switch non-asbestos materials in the light of the fact that some 48 countries have banned white asbestos mineral fibers that causes incurable lung cancer according to World Health Organisation (WHO). This will go a long way in combating fatal diseases caused corporate crimes and in making national capital the first region in the country to adopt zero-tolerance policy towards the killer asbestos fibers.

We submit that so far some 48 countries have banned asbestos as of November 2016. These countries are : Germany, Chile, Argentina, South Africa, France, Australia, Norway, Spain, Belgium, United Kingdom, Israel, Turkey, Mauritius, Denmark, Ireland, Mozambique, Seychelles, Egypt, Netherlands, Slovakia, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Bahrain and Jordan, Gabon, South Korea, New Caledonia, Slovenia, Austria, Finland, Sweden, Brunei, Oman, Kuwait, Poland, Switzerland, Bulgaria, Gibraltar, Latvia, Portugal, Greece, Estonia, Lithuania, Qatar, Croatia, Honduras, Luxembourg, Romania, Uruguay, Cyprus, Hungary, Malta, Saudi Arabia, Czech Republic, Iceland, Serbia and Algeria.
We submit that National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) passed an order in Case No: 693/30/97-98 recommending that the asbestos sheets roofing be replaced with roofing made up of some other material that would not be harmful.

We submit that Government should be asked to ensure decontamination of asbestos from the old schools and ensure that no asbestos roofs or any asbestos material is used in any school or public or private building in Delhi.

We submit that Delhi’s Govt should be asked to take steps to ensure that only non-asbestos building material and water supply pipes etc are procured. A register of asbestos laden buildings and victims of asbestos related diseases should be created. A compensation fund for the victims of primary and secondary exposure must be established.

We submit that substitutes for asbestos based products are not limited to products that simply replace asbestos with another material (e.g., PVA and cellulose in fiber-cement roofing sheet).  There are also a number of wholly different products that can replace the asbestos products. It is noteworthy that asbestos of all kinds including white chrysotile asbestos is banned in some 50 countries.

We submit that while asbestos mining is technically banned in the country, in a shocking case of inconsistency India continues to import asbestos from asbestos producing countries like Russia, Brazil Kazakhstan and China. Trade in asbestos waste (dust and fiber) is also banned.

We submit that by letter dated 9th July, 1986  from Union Ministry of Steel, Mines & Coal, Government of India with reference no. 7/23/84-AM-III/AM-VI there is a stay on grant of new mining lease for asbestos mineral and renewal of the leases. Reiterating the same in June 1993, central government stopped the renewal of existing mining leases of asbestos. The mining activity was banned by Union Ministry of Mines.

As a result at present no permission is being given for new mining lease of asbestos mineral and no lease is being renewed. At present no lease of asbestos mineral is approved/or in force in the country.

It is strange that while mining of asbestos is banned in the country due to adverse health impact, the same is being imported from Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Zimbabwe. It high time government stopped practicing such untenable policies displaying manifest double standards.

In a bizarre act while Government of India has technically banned asbestos mining, it continues to allow import and export of asbestos. "In view of the deleterious effect of asbestos mining on health of the  workers, the government has ordered the State governments in 1986 not to grant any new mining lease for asbestos (including Chrysotile variety) in the country" as per Government of India’s letter. Government must be made make India asbestos free by rectifying the irrationality of banning mining of asbestos but continuing its trade.

We submit that following vibrant struggle in villages of Muzaffarpur and Vaishali in Bihar and Bargarh in Odisha stopped the establishment of asbestos based plants.  There are struggles going in Bhojpur, Bihar against such heavily polluting factories. 

In view of the same, if the Commission can recommend ban on procurement of asbestos based products by government agencies it will send a clear signal that it is sensitive towards the health of present and future citizens of national capital.

We will be happy to share relevant information in this regard.

Yours faithfully
Dr Gopal Krishna
ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA)
Mb: 08227816731, 09818089660
E-mail:1715krishna@gmail.com



[1] Will look for alternatives to carcinogenic asbestos: Environment Minister. August 15, 2016. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Will-look-for-alternatives-to-carcinogenic-asbestos- Mantri/articleshow/53703528.cms
[2] NHRC order in Case No.693/30/97-98

Why Ken Betwa link project is anti-river initiative

To

Union Minister of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation
Government of India
New Delhi

Date: December 28, 2016

Subject-Why Ken Betwa link project is anti-river initiative  

Respected Uma Bharati Jee, 

With reference to the release of Press Information Bureau (PIB), Ministry of Water Resources, Government of India titled “Last Hurdle for Ken Betwa link over” dated 26 December, 2016, your ministry’s reply to me (No. NWDA/113/55/Tech./2015) dated 24th June, 2015 in response to my letter to you on the question of “Why several states remain opposed to rewriting of geography through interlinking of rivers” and a recent article in Yathavat magazine regarding routine announcement about Interlinking of Rivers to divert attention from failure to save Ganga river and its basin. 

We submit that the proponents of Ken Betwa link project fails to appreciate the pearls of wisdom from Mahabharata that describes the Divine Being saying, “The mountains are his bones. The earth is his fat and flesh. The oceans are his blood. Space is his stomach. The Wind is his breath. Fire is his energy. The rivers are his arteries and veins. Agni and Soma, otherwise called the Sun and the Moon, are called his eyes. The firmament above is his head. The earth is his two feet. The cardinal and subsidiary points of the horizon are his arms,” the new government should reject the idea of “inter-linking of rivers based on feasibility”. This is narrated by Bhishma in conversation with Yudhishthira while referring to the reply of sage Bhrigu to sage Bharadwaja. This verse occurs in the Shanti Parva of Mahabharata.

We submit that the proponents fail to recognize that Interlinking of rivers project is an exercise in delinking because it entails mutilation of the veins and arteries of the divine nature. Rivers shape the terrain and lives of people by its waters which are always in a dynamic state. Breaking this dynamic would unleash forces of uncontrolled change and invite the ‘law of unintended consequences’.

With regard to clearance of National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) for the Ken Betwa link project, the fact is that the recommendation came in its meeting dated August 23, 2016. This is revealed from the minutes dated September 19, 2016 published on the website of Union Ministry of Environment, Forests & Climate Change. It is evident that it is not a new development. It is a sad commentary on the news agencies which published this old news as it reveals that they do not look critically at news regarding interlinking of rivers project.  It is equally sad that PIB, a wing of Union Ministry of Information & Broadcasting releases such old news as new development without application of mind. 

We submit that the claim that the NBWL recommendation means “last hurdle for Ken Betwa river link project is over” constitutes grave misrepresentation of facts.

We submit that this project not received Environmental Clearance from Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) on River Valley Projects, Union Ministry of Environment and Forests and both stages of forest clearance.

We submit that the recommendation of NBWL does not imply final wildlife clearance under the Wild Life (Protection) Act 1972 given the fact that all recommendations for de-notification of protected areas are scheduled to go to Supreme Court’s Central Empowered Committee (CEC) which has to decide whether or not to refer the NBWL’s recommendation to the Supreme Court or not.
  
We submit that there is a compelling logic for a fresh Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) and public hearing given the fresh design of the power component of the project outside the Tiger Reserve. 

We submit that every project including the Ken Betwa link project proposed on a tributary in the Ganga basin is required to seek clearances from the concerned district, state and National Ganga River Conservation Authorities. As per the River Ganga (Rejuvenation, Protection and Management) Authorities Order, 2016 dated 7th October, 2016 notified in the Gazette of India, these are statutory clearances. This has not been done so far.

We submit that if Ken Betwa river link project is on EAC agenda for the meeting to be held on December 30, 2016, it should ensure project configuration is altered to meet the conditions laid down by NBWL as per the minutes of the 39th meeting of NBWL held on August 23, 2016.

We submit that the minutes of EAC meeting dated June 2016 merits your attention. It reads: “EAC suggested to explore the dropping of the hydropower generation component in the Project, including Infrastructure from planning of Ken-Betwa Link Project in view of likely ecological disturbances on wild life. Project proponent assured the committee to review the hydropower component.” It is noteworthy that if the hydropower component is dropped, it would consequent in changes in components of project factoring its impacts.

We submit that the EAC in minutes of the EAC meeting held on June 2016, when the project was last considered noted: “Only about 41.4 sq km which is 7.5% of the Panna Tiger Reserve area (576 sq km) will be submerged”. The minutes also notes that the additional secretary, MoWR, in his presentation before EAC, made similar claim. However, this is in variance with what is stated in minutes of the 39th meeting (held on Aug 23, 2016) of the NBWL standing committee, where this project was considered, states: “AIG (NTCA) presented the major concerns of Tiger Habitat, management issues and recommendations of NTCA, as examined under the Section 38 (O) (b) of WLPA. The major concerns of direct loss of tiger habitat of 105 sq.km, loss of vulture nesting sites and disturbances were presented.” Nowhere in the EIA of the project that is before the EAC, has it been stated that 105 sq km of the tiger habitat will be directly lost due to the project, and the EIA and EAC keep mentioning much lower figure of 41.4 sq km. This again shows that the EIA and the project parameters before the EAC are much at variance with what is presented in other official statutory bodies. This again underlines the need for a fresh, credible EIA. In any case, the EAC needs to ask the developer to explain these differences.

The application of Ken-Betwa project for Forest Clearance says the project needs 6017 ha of forest land out of total land requirement of 11984 ha, total forest land required in Panna National Park includes 5578.92 ha of forest land and 2922 ha of Non forest land. It also says total forest land in submergence is 5761 ha, again grossly at variance with the figures in EIA and EAC. The EAC needs to ask the developer to resolve these serious discrepancies first and reapply for clearance after coming up with correct figures.

We submit that the June 2016 EAC meeting minutes had noted this statement of Hon’ble Prime Minister: “Considering the eco-system value of tiger conservation areas, we need to consider them as “natural capital”. EAC needs to note that the EIA of the project has no mention of the lost of “economic, social, cultural and spiritual benefits” provided by the Panna Tiger Reserve mentioned by the Hon’ble Prime Minister.

NWDA’s contention “the ILR projects are green projects and these link projects under ILR Programme have been formulated by exercising all caution and considering all engineering parameters required for the project” ignores the glaring fact of South Asia’s biggest ecological crisis due to construction of embankments in Kosi basin in Bihar and Nepal. These misplaced engineering interventions have created unprecedented drainage congestion crisis even as NWDA and its sister organizations keep claiming that it was “formulated by exercising all caution and considering all engineering parameters required for the project.” NWDA’S contention ignores the lessons from the drying up of Aral Sea, the world biggest ecological catastrophe because of diversion of Siberian rivers in former USSR.

We submit that some 60 years ago Aral Sea basin was a richly forested eco-system fed by two of the longest rivers in Asia. It stretched 266 miles from its northern port, Aral'sk, to the port on its southern delta, Muynak. The lake was fed in the north by the Syr-Dar'ya River, flowing from its headwaters in Kyrgyzstan through Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, then north through Kazakhstan into the lake. The Amu-Dar'ya River begins near Khyber Pass in Afghanistan, flowing along the border between Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan before forming a delta at the southern end of the Aral Sea. After the collapse of USSR, Kazakhstan borders the Aral Sea in the north, while Uzbekistan lies on the south shore. After the collapse USSR, scientists discovered that the Aral Sea was missing. At present the Aral Sea has lost three-fourths of its former volume and two-thirds of its former surface area. The water level has dropped by almost seventy feet, and the salinity of the lake is triple the level of forty years ago. The former sea has split into two parts with a diminishing trickle of water between them. There are projections about its complete disappearance in near future.

We submit that quite like the proposed ILR project, Soviet government had launched a massive irrigation project. In 1ate 1930s when it was decided to drain the rivers of the Aral basin to irrigate wide expanses of desert disregarding the advice and prediction of Soviet scientists about its adverse consequences for the Aral Sea and its ecosystem if the Amu-Dar'ya and Syr-Dar'ya were exploited as planned, but their advice was ignored. As a result, water from the two rivers

stopped reaching the sea much of the time, and not at all in dry years. The Amu-Dar'ya stopped reaching the sea due to drought, and water from the Syr-Dar'ya did not reach the sea during the summer when needed for irrigation, coming instead in the winter and causing floods, exacerbating the ecological situation. The sea began drying up within years after introduction of the plan, but the USSR government argued that "the disappearance of the sea would be good, because then more cotton fields could be planted on the seabed." The desertification of the Aral Sea was not a natural process; it was deliberate process akin to the proposed ILR project.

We wish to point out what Shri Mikhail Gorbachev, formerly President of the USSR said in this regard. He said, “After the extent of the Aral Sea tragedy became known, we stabilized the unsustainable irrigation schemes which were cutting off the water supply to the Aral Sea, and halted a project which had been planned by engineers to divert two major Siberian rivers.” He added, “The most important lesson is that the developments in science and technology of the past century bring with them not only huge benefits, but also great responsibility, as human mistakes or mismanagement can now cause irreversible damage to the environment, immeasurable human suffering and threaten the very habitability of large parts of our precious planet.”

NWDA’s claim, “The ILR projects will provide boost in every sphere of life including job creation, greenery, tourism and ultimately helps in food production and thus increase food security of the nation” is an exercise in empty posturing. It does not provide any figures for such claims. It does not disclose the quantum of agricultural land that will be submerged and how much of such land will be put to non-agricultural purposes while making unsubstantiated claims about “food production” and “food security”. Unless NWDA provides figures for how food production will suffer and impact food security due to submergence and diversion of agricultural land such claims are manifestly misleading.
We submit that the proposed Interlinking of Rivers (ILR) project will kill the rivers and their basins. It will destroy groundwater recharge system. The fact is that surface water projects are not delivering, they only seem to involve scandals.

We wish to draw your attention towards a book ‘Free the CBI’ by Late Shri B R Lall, former Joint Director, Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) wherein there is a reference author’s letter to Shri K Vijaya Rama Rao, the then Director, CBI in August 1995. In this letter he mentions that he strove for complete investigation into the power sector, which is draining the country. In the book it is mentioned that kickbacks may be 3 to 10 % of the project cost, but up-valuation is anything between 40 to 100 % of the real project cost. He had sent a report on Chamera project to Director, CBI where against an estimated cost of Rs 1393 crores in 1992, the negotiations for allotment are on for Rs 3300 to 3600 crores i.e.@ Rs 12 crores per MW whereas world over rate of only around Rs 6 crores per MW is considered reasonable for hydro electric projects. In the letter it is reasoned that even if this figure were to be Rs 2000 crores for 300 MW Chamera project, shouldn’t it be examined when Rs 1000 to 1500 crore of the nation is being squandered for kickbacks of Rs 100 crore. The Director CBI never permitted this probe.

We demand a high level probe in the hydro power sector before pursuing the ILR project which entails such projects as well.

We submit that as per the Planning Commission’s Tenth Plan document, there are 383 ongoing major and medium projects awaiting completion, 111 of which are pending since pre-fifth Plan period i.e. more than 26 years. All these can be completed within five to eight years, yielding an additional potential of about 14 million hectares at a cost of Rs 77,000 crore as estimated by the plan task force, now raised to Rs 100,000 crore.

The second component listed in the Plan is development of minor irrigation, mostly in the eastern and northeastern regions. The total potential assessed is 24.5 million hectares with a total investment of Rs 54,000 crore, of which the government is expected to provide only Rs 13,500 crore, the balance coming from beneficiary farmers and institutional loans. The cost per hectare is only Rs 20,000 and gestation period almost nil, against a cost of Rs 100,000 and 12 years' gestation in case of major and medium projects.

The third equally beneficial scheme mentioned in the Plan is the groundwater recharge master plan prepared by the Central Ground Water Board needing Rs 24,500 crore to trap 36 billion cubic meters of water annually.

We submit that these measures are quite clearly better than the project of networking of rivers. The concerned judges would serve the ecological interest of the subcontinent better if they could pay heed to these proposals of the Plan document. Judges at all levels have, by and large, justified the confidence reposed in them. But there is scope for improvement in several spheres and it is up to the judiciary itself to rectify the defects in its role and prove to the public that as long as there is an efficient, impartial, independent and incorruptible judiciary, democracy in India will be safe from the tyranny of the executive and also the judiciary.

We submit that the proposal of networking Peninsular and Himalayan rivers emerges from a lack of rigorous evaluation of the ecological impacts which would prove disastrous not only to the fishery, but also to the biodiversity and biotic processes that have evolved over the past hundred of millions of years.
We must remember if water scarcity is the perennial question, there better answers like the groundwater recharge master plan available with the government. Water can be made to “Reach to All Homes, Farms and Factories” by adopting this plan as well at a minimal cost. 

It submitted that whenever there is conflict between financial gains and rivers, the latter must get priority over monetary benefits because by any yard stick economic value of a free flowing river is bigger than dammed and mutilated rivers.  The capitalist, communist and colonial legacy of treating rivers as material flow that flow through pipelines must be abandoned and rivers must be treated as living beings that nourished our civilization for centuries and can nourish all the coming generations if cannibalistic tendency of diverting waters in bottles, dams and banks is stopped.

We submit that NWDA is under structural compulsion to push these ecologically destructive projects envisaged in 1970s to justify their continued existence. NCAER, NWDA and their promoters remain trapped in pre-climate crisis era wherein “taming of rivers”, dams were temples and not outcome of disease of gigantism and conquest over nature was considered part of scientific temper with which rivers could be murdered with impunity.

We submit that in 1715 India accounted for 25 % of world industrial output. India’s share in the world’s industrial output became possible without engineering the landscape and replumbing the river valleys of the sub continent which is already demonstrably earth quake prone.

In view of the recent earth quakes, unpredictable rainfall and changing weather pattern, we are under logical compulsion to reiterate that for the sake of sanity and humanity, projects like Ken-Betwa project under Interlinking of Rivers project should be abandoned.

We would be happy to meet you as a delegation and share relevant documents in this regard.

Thanking You

Yours faithfully
Gopal Krishna
Ganga Bachao Samiti (GBS)
ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA)
Mb: 08227816731, 09818089660
E-mail-1715krishna@gmail.com
Web:
www.toxicswatch.org

Cc
Shri Anil Madhav Dave, Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) Environment, Forest and Climate Change
Chairman and members, Expert Appraisal Committee on River Valley and Hydropower projects, MoEF&CC


 
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