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Colonies join hands against Dioxins factory for Energy from Garbage

Written By Gopal Krishna on Saturday, August 23, 2008 | 4:15 AM

23/8/2008 New Delhi: A protest rally against against the incineration based waste to energy (WTE) project brought the residents of Gaffar Manzil, Sukhdev Vihar and Hazi Colony together. Local politicians have also pledged their support for the protesters. Over 600 people walked through the colonies in a procession to stage their protest. Similar plants are proposed in Timarpur and Gazipur.

The proposed plant is located inside dozens of densely populated residential colonies like Harkesh Nagar and Johori Farm, when the policy of the government is to shift or relocate all existing industries whatsoever from the residential areas. Besides this the site is in proximity of hospitals like Holy Family, Fortis-EScorts and Apollo.

Inhabitants of colonies like Gaffar Manzil, Sukhdev Vihar and Hazi Colony are rightly alarmed at the prospect of a Dioxins emitting incinerator plant from coming up in their vicinity. Dioxins, the most deadly toxin known to mankind travels long distances in the atmosphere and is found on plants, in water, soil, grazing animals and humans.

“If the government does not act save the inhabitants of these colonies within 10 days, such protests against the plant and the government will continue” said Arif Khan of Gaffar Manzil Residents Welfare Association. Communities from these colonies plan to bring the traffic to a standstill at Mathura Road if government remains indifferent to their concerns, said Naresh Agarwal, P K Nayyar and A S Sachdeva of Sukhdev Vihar Welafre Association.

Earlier on August 4, 2008, residents did not allow the land hand over ceremony for the project that is proposed in the residential area of Okhla (Sukhdev Vihar). Unmindful of the public protest, New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) had permitted Jindal Urban Infrastructure Ltd to set up this plant. This company has secured a contract from New Delhi Waste Processing Company Limited, a joint venture between the Delhi Government and Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Services Ltd. (IL&FS), to produce 16 MW power from 2, 000 Metric Tonnes of municipal waste. The Union Ministry of New and Renewable Energy has a policy and a Master Plan to give subsidy to promote such projects. The raw material would be supplied to the company by the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) and the Municipal Corporation of Delhi. Prior to that a team of Rajendra Kumar, Secretary (Power) and Dr Ajay K Singh, Additional Secretary (Power), Delhi Government that visited the site of the proposed plant July 19, 2008 faced angry resident amid uproarious scenes.

Clearly, Delhi government, MCD, NDMC and the company in question are guilty of connivance with regard to manifest violation of Supreme Court's order that has permitted subsidy for only Biomethanation -a biological treatment technology and not incinerators. This matter came up for hearing hearing in the apex court on July 28, 2008 and is due for next hearing on September 9, 2008. Given the fact that this non-renewable technology is contrary to the recommendations of the Prime Minister's National Plan of Action for Climate Change, its claims about carbon credits are quite misplaced and merit scrutiny.

The proposed incineration based RDF (Refuse-Derived Fuel) technology for electricity generation from garbage involves emission of Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) like dioxins, furans and heavy metals like mercury and lead. Dioxins are cancer causing and endocrine disruptors with intergenerational health impacts. The ash that results from burning the waste is more complex than managing municipal waste.

Instead of undertaking RDF projects, zero waste initiatives can save more energy than what the proposed projects can generate giving more livelihood opportunities for the urban poor.


For details:

Gopal Krishna, E-mail: krishnagreen@gmail.com, Delhi Campaign for Safe Environment (DCSE), Mb: 98180896609

Arif Khan, Gaffar Manzil Residents Welfare Association, Mb: 9891519844

Anil Mishra,Sukhdev Vihar Welafre Association, Mb: 9313422881

Naresh Agarwal,Sukhdev Vihar Welafre Association, Mb: 9868113650

Hazi Rais, President, Hazi Colony Welfare Association, Mb: 9213427436

Misinformation campaign of Canadian govt & white asbestos companies

Written By Gopal Krishna on Friday, August 22, 2008 | 8:41 AM

A recent Canadian government's paper from the federal Department of Natural Resources once again promotes chrysotile asbestos. It is criticising Rotterdam Convention on Prior Informed Consent (PIC) Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade as an international treaty that lacks objectivity about the safety of chrysotile asbestos.

This report quite like the recent asbestos studies of India's National Institute of Occupational Health is a brilliant example of the politicization of science for commercial benefit.

Below are two paragraphs where the Canadian paper refers to India.

"In India, a major consumer of chrysotile and producer of chrysotile-based products, many improvements have been achieved and are ongoing in work practices and new regulations since the Ministry of Environment and Forests' policy on the manufacture of chrysotile-based products was finalized in March 2003. Under the new policy, the chrysotile-cement industry, in collaboration with the regulatory agency, is working to improve working conditions by eliminating the manual handling and opening of chrysotile fibre bags; fully automatic debagging systems are currently being implemented throughout the manufacturing process."

"India, a major consumer of chrysotile fibres, strongly opposed the addition of chrysotile to the list of substances subject to the PIC procedure at the third Conference of the Parties. India stated that the epidemiological studies cited by the European Union, Chile, and Australia in drafting the Decision Guidance Document in support of the submission for listing chrysotile all pertained to the use of mixed fibres consisting predominantly of amphibole varieties. India
claimed that numerous other epidemiological studies concluded that chrysotile fibres alone, used in the manufacturing of chryso-cement products, did not substantially increase the incidence of lung cancer. It was further mentioned that in India, crocidolite, which caused most of the
lung-related diseases in the western part of the country, has been banned since 1994."

A new monograph, "India's Asbestos Time Bomb" exposes the blatant lies being told in the Canadian government's paper about the safe use of asbestos in India.

Here is the real story of asbestos trade and use in India.

Some 50 countries have banned asbestos, a killer fiber. Asbestos consumption is rising dramatically in India even as U.S. Senate passed Ban Asbestos in America Act on October 4, 2007 unanimously. Countries like Russia, Canada, Kazakhstan and Brazil continue to produce, trade and promote this ticking time bomb in India. The Russian Federation has also been found to be exporting asbestos industry waste to India. Research is showing asbestos epidemics across the globe even in countries where it is currently banned, as the consequence of past exposure.

Stories of the toll asbestos takes on people are yet to hit the headlines in India as has been the case in US, Europe, Australia and Japan. The recent UN statistics indicates that India imported roughly 306,000 MT of asbestos in 2006. Out of which 152, 820 MT was imported from Russia, 63, 980 MT from Canada, 48, 807 MT from Kazakhstan and 34, 953 MT from Brazil.

Asbestos production and marketing started in the Urals at the start of the 19th century. By the onset of World War I, Russia was the world’s second biggest asbestos producer, although well behind Canada. In 1975, Soviet Russia overtook Canada as the world’s leading asbestos producer. Russia remains the leading world asbestos producer. The country’s principal asbestos mine (Uralasbest) was privatized and was owned by new Russian capitalists. It was even declared
bankrupt in 1997 but it resumed its activities afterwards.

There has virtually been no debate on asbestos either under the Soviet regime or since. Following the banning of asbestos in the European Union, the Vladimir Putin government did set up a panel of experts to give an opinion on a possible Russian asbestos ban. The panel’s report is an impassioned defence of asbestos use. The pro-Russian asbestos lobby like their counterparts in Canada, Zimbabwe and Brazil too claim that it holds relatively little danger for health.

The Russian authorities continue to deny the health havoc wrought by asbestos. Russian media, civil society and academia must sensitize the Russian citizens to desist from exporting asbestos to gullible Indians.

Currently mining of all kinds of asbestos (Blue, Brown and White [chrysotile] Asbestos) is banned in India. Trade in asbestos waste is also banned. Besides all other forms of asbestos other than chrysotile asbestos (White Asbestos) is prohibited in India. While white asbestos mining is currently banned in India, its import, export or use in manufacturing is permitted.

In September 2007, Independent Peoples Tribunal (IPT) on the World Bank Group (WBG) was presented with evidence of Bank officials suggesting how it finances huge infrastructure projects all over the world including India despite this there is no formal restrictions on the use of asbestos-cement (A-C) sheets and pipes in these projects. Over 90 percent of all asbestos used today is in A-C sheets and pipes, and this production is concentrated in poor countries.

Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI) called for urgent action in India and elsewhere to end the needless slaughter caused by this environmental and occupational health catastrophe. The 4-day IPT was held from 21 –24 September at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.

It was demanded, “The World Bank should adopt a formal policy of forbidding asbestos in all of its projects and require the use of safer substitute construction materials. Such substitution is feasible as shown by the bans in more than 40 countries.. The World Bank should also adopt best practice guidelines for the minimization of asbestos exposures in projects where in-place
asbestos materials are disturbed by renovation or demolition activities.” It has called upon the World Bank to support the asbestos action program just started by the WHO and use its influence and leverage to press for cessation of asbestos use all over world.

The report of World Bank environmental official Robert Goodland, "Sustainable Development Sourcebook for the World Bank Group's Extractive Industries Review:Examining the Social and Environmental Impacts of Oil, Gas, and Mining" (3 December, 2003). Policy options for asbestos (p. 141) included, "5. The WBG should work with the rest of the UN system to foster a global ban on asbestos."

The voice of asbestos victims has been totally disregarded by Indian political parties of all hues both in the states and at national level unlike US and Europe. Indian homes are often built of asbestos cement roofs, and people cut their own windows and doorways. The occurrence of asbestos-related diseases, including mesothelioma, lung cancer and asbestosis, is growing out of control. Studies estimate that during the next decade, in India victims will die of an asbestos related disease at the rate of 30 deaths per day.

BANI has been asking the Indian government to disassociate itself from the Russian and Canadian asbestos lobby and take lessons from the nations that have banned this fiber to safeguard its workers and citizens.

'We don't want to export toxic waste to India'

As inspector general for international enforcement and cooperation of the ministry of environment, spatial planning and housing (VROM) in the Netherlands and co-chair of the international network for environmental compliance and enforcement, Gerard Wolters is seeking cooperation with authorities in India to better regulate and control trade in waste. He spoke to Narayani Ganesh:

Why is the Netherlands exercised about the international waste trade?

In its capacity as inspector and enforcer, the environment ministry is also concerned with the control of trans-boundary movements of waste that pass through Rotterdam Port, mostly from the European Union. The waste that leaves Rotterdam, the outgoing waste, is important for us because the policy in the Netherlands is to follow international and national rules governing waste.

India is a priority because two million tonnes of waste are shipped to India every year via Rotterdam. Of this, some 200,000 tonnes originate from the Netherlands. The Netherlands does not want to export toxic waste to countries like India in the name of recycling. Sometimes we can't see where the waste is going, it's simply not under our control. So we are seeking the cooperation of authorities in India to tackle any irregularities that might occur.

Ships containing hazardous material have set sail from Europe for India's ship-breaking yards.

Not from Rotterdam. But there is no proof if these ships carry cargo that they offload elsewhere and then they proceed to the ship-breaking destination. The EU forbids export of hazardous chemical waste to non-OECD countries. There is no export of hazardous waste from Rotterdam even if it originates in countries other than the EU. Para 49 of the new European waste shipment regulation lays down strict guidelines and so it is our duty to ensure that waste is treated in an environmentally friendly manner and that there are no irregularities.

According to the Basel Convention Treaty, we are not allowed to export chemical waste.

Often, e-waste is sent to India as second-hand goods.


That's why inspection is carried out. Some are even classified as scrap, so we do stop them when we are certain. E-waste is partly hazardous, if it has circuit boards that are not on the green list. As regards export of waste to India, there are procedures to be followed. There are certain conditions and often we need to check these out with authorities in India. As a fast-developing country, India requires a great deal of raw materials and it is good that India sources a lot of them through recycling.

India can specify what it requires by way of permitting materials for onward shipment and VROM in turn will ensure that it is enforced. For instance, Hong Kong bans second-hand electronics. China has banned e-waste.


22 Aug 2008
The Times of India

Schemes to Dispose Industrial Hazardous Waste

Rs.2 Crores Grant To Set Up TSDF On Public Private Partnership

August 17, 2008, PIB Release, Ministry of Environment and Forests

Financial assistance is given for setting up this Treatment, Storage and Disposal Facilities (TSDFs). to dispose hazardous waste in the country. This scheme has been formulated for disposal of waste from industries which is harmful to environment. Under this scheme, the Ministry of Environment & Forests provides a grant to the tune of Rs.2 crores with a proportionate contribution from the State Government for setting up of TSDF on a Public Private Partnership involving the Central and State Government and a private enterprise through Build Operate Own (BOO) principle.

The Ministry of Environment and Forests have notified the Hazardous Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 1989 as amended in 2000 and 2003 under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986. These rules regulate the collection, storage, transportation, treatment, disposal, import and export of hazardous wastes listed in the Schedules annexed to these rules. As per the provisions under these rules, the industries are required to treat and dispose the hazardous waste in an environmentally sound manner.

The import of hazardous wastes is regulated under rules 11 to 14 of the said rules. According to these rules, any hazardous waste containing or contaminated with the hazardous waste categories listed in Schedule 8 of these rules is also prohibited for imports.

However, imports of hazardous wastes listed in Schedules 3 and 4 of the Hazardous Waste (Management and Handling) Rules as amended in 2003, is permitted into the country for recycling and reprocessing only on a case by case basis. The import of hazardous waste is also regulated under the Export Import Policy of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.

The recycling and reprocessing of hazardous wastes is allowed to be carried out only by the units registered as recyclers with the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and having environmentally sound management facilities for recycling such wastes. The registered recyclers recycle both the indigenously generated as well as the imported hazardous waste.

The Government of India is a Party to the Basel Convention on Control of Trans-boundary Movement of Hazardous Wastes and their disposal which is the International Treaty for regulating the trans-boundary movement of such wastes. The Government of India has ratified the same in 1992. The trans-boundary movement (import and export) of hazardous wastes is also regulated under this Convention requiring a prior consent in writing from the importing country for handling such waste in an environmentally sound manner.

Three Mile Island accident & Indo-US Nuclear Deal

Written By Gopal Krishna on Thursday, August 21, 2008 | 12:41 AM

Storing nuclear waste is expensive and dangerous.

After the Three Mile Island accident in 1979, US had put in place a regulatory structure that makes it impossible to build its own breeder.

The Three Mile Island accident was the most significant accident in the history of the American commercial nuclear power generating industry. It resulted in the release of a significant amount of radioactivity, an estimated 43,000 curies of radioactive krypton, but under 20 curies of the particularly hazardous iodine-131, to the environment.

However, there are no deaths or injuries to plant workers or members of the nearby community which can be attributed to the accident.

Whatever the sources of the local fear and outrage, public reaction to the event is judged by some epidemiologists to have induced stresses in the local population that could have caused adverse health effects.

The accident began on March 28, 1979, and ultimately resulted in a partial core meltdown in Unit 2 of the nuclear power plant (a pressurized water reactor manufactured by Babcock & Wilcox) of the Three Mile Island Nuclear Generating Station in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania near Harrisburg.

Jack Herbein, Metropolitan Edison's then Vice President for Power Generation initially and erroneously called the accident "a normal aberration." The scope and complexity of this reactor accident became clear over the course of five days, as a number of agencies at the local, state and federal levels tried to solve the problem and decide whether the on-going accident required a full emergency evacuation of the local community, if not the entire area to the west/southwest. In the end, the reactor was brought under control, although full details of the accident were not discovered until much later.

Although 25,000 people lived within five miles (8 km) of the site at the time of the accident, no identifiable injuries due to radiation occurred, and a government report concluded that "There will either be no case of cancer or the number of cases will be so small that it will never be possible to detect them. The same conclusion applies to the other possible health effects."

The accident was followed by essentially a complete cessation of nuclear construction in the US. The impact of news stories about the accident was no doubt a factor, but other factors were the availability of cheap natural gas, a transition away from manufacturing and toward importation of consumer products, and federal policies that tolerated air pollution in the interest of keeping coal-fired electricity cheap.



Convincing them is the key

Nothing, not even mushroom clouds, gets nuclear non-proliferation zealots into a frenzy more than talk of spreading enrichment and reprocessing (ENR) technology. This acronym may prove to be the single biggest hurdle to India ending its nuclear isolation when the Nuclear Suppliers Group meets in Vienna today.

The reason is that both technologies pave the way to atom bomb-building. Enrich uranium above a certain point and it’s warhead-ready. Reprocessing lets you strain glow-in-the-dark waste for fissile material. “Non-proliferation experts worry about reprocessing because it allows for the separation of pure plutonium from spent fuel rods,” says physicist R. Rajaraman. “In principle, it can be used directly to make weapons.” Thou Shalt Not Spread ENR Tech is the 11th commandment of arms control.

The fact that the Indo-US civilian nuclear deal leaves the door slightly ajar for India to access ENR equipment has made the New Zealand-to-Norway anti-nuclear axis so noisy in the run-up to Vienna. Their other demands include penalties for nuclear testing and a periodic review to see whether India isn’t N-cheating on the sly.

How enrichment and reprocessing has been seen in the eyes of various countries is a parable on how the Indo-US nuclear deal is understood by different players. For India, getting access to ENR was both a right and a requirement. ‘Full civil nuclear cooperation’ with the US had to include some ENR stuff, though the US doesn’t share this even with close allies. Section 104 of the Hyde Act allows India to get some ENR equipment and material under certain conditions. US proliferation expert Sharon Squassoni complained that the deal made India “a legitimate reprocessing State”.

But there was substance behind the ENR symbolism. India’s Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) began pressing the US for ENR access once it concluded the nuclear deal was not some underhand American plot. They realised that if the deal went through, India could massively increase its civilian nuclear power programme. However, indigenous ENR technology is primitive — okay for the standard desi 220 MW pygmies, but not for the 1000-plus MW reactors that could be imported. India would need to scale up enrichment to feed so many reactors. It also needs reprocessing to handle waste. Storing nuclear waste is expensive and dangerous, reprocessing makes nuclear energy drastically cheaper. “The viability of commercial nuclear power in India depends on the quality of ENR technology,” said an Indian official.

India’s motives for getting access to ENR are clear. What is less known is why the Bush administration was willing to open the ENR door, an act that made selling the deal to the US Congress, and now to the NSG, ten times more difficult. A key US motive was to build a strategic nuclear partnership with India, revolving around India’s fast breeder reactor.

Washington wanted to shape a new nuclear order in which the highest caste would be reserved for countries with large supplies of fissile material. Breeders, which produce more fuel than they consume, are the only guarantee of such stocks. The problem: after the Three Mile Island accident in 1979, US officials told their Indian counterparts that the US had put in place a regulatory structure that makes it impossible to build its own breeder.

So the US urged India to consider, as one consequence of the nuclear deal, a bilateral partnership in breeder technology. The US would contribute its own breeder knowhow, expertise in thorium fuel fabrication and, of course, its superior ENR. But this was too much, too fast, for a wary DAE that said ‘later perhaps’. Nuclear expert Anupam Srivastava of the University of Georgia says India was too cautious. “Right now India can live with ENR equipment. If its nuclear programme matures, in ten years it will want ENR technology,” he says.

The US left a loophole on ENR sales in the Hyde Act in the hope that India might one day revisit the idea. Section 104 Part 4 allows the transfer and export of ENR “equipment, components or materials” to India in case of “a bilateral or multinational program to develop a proliferation-resistant fuel cycle”.

Even now, many in New Delhi treat the breeder idea as a pie in the sky. “It is doubtful that DAE will ever trust the Americans enough to share a breeder with the US,” said an Indian official. DAE officials have only said they will wait until after the nuclear deal is done. One incentive: firing up the DAE’s pet breeder will be easier if they have better ENR. “The DAE’s declared future for breeder reactors in India is in metallic fuels,” says Manohar Thyagaraj of the US India Business Alliance, “in which case [advanced] reprocessing becomes essential.”

So India saw the ENR issue as a cost-cutting technology. The US saw it as a means to rework the global nuclear hierarchy. Neither of these cut ice with the New Zealand-to-Norway axis. For them, these are purely national concerns that do not outweigh the punching of holes in a 40-year-old non-proliferation agreement.

Unsurprisingly, the countries that are determined to place tight conditions on any NSG exemption for India are small, rich and live in areas where a security threat is a high school food fight. The more a country is imbued with a sense of geopolitics, the more likely it is to accept that India needs a niche in the nuclear order. The Bush administration, ultimately, was prepared to make concessions to India because it saw an empowered India as being in the US interest. An Indian official who interacted with European governments on the deal said, “Europeans just saw us as a large-sized Iran.”

The NSG guidelines will have to include some moralising language to keep the anti-nuclear axis happy. India will have to start the Vienna proceedings explaining why no one will regret bringing India out of the atomic cold; and why it is better to have India inside, rather than outside the non-proliferation tent. One US diplomat said, “There are going to be all these countries sitting in a room in Vienna. They won’t care about Indo-US relations or climate change or India’s past nuclear record. They will want to hear the political case for the claim that India is a good nuclear partner.”

August 20, 2008
Hindustan Times

Proposed RDF based Dioxins factory in Agra, a threat to public health

Amid uproarious scenes at the public hearing for environmental clearance on a proposed municipal solid waste facility involving a waste to energy plant in the Agra district, environmentalists, public health researchers, villagers from Kuberpur and local residents sought its postponement in the absence of full Environment Impact Assessment (EIA). It is a Rs 1.75 billion project. The absence of the Hindi version of the EIA report outraged the resiednts. This mandatory environmental clearance process was a fiasco. In pursuance of the newspaper advertisement of the UP Pollution Control Board (UPPCB) convened this public hearing at the Agra Collectorate on August 19, 2008.

The Kuberpur, the site for the proposed plant is dangerously close to the Taj Mahal and the Yamuna river, and is in the sensitive Taj Trapezium Zone (a 10,400 sq km area around the monument)... Environmental impact assessment studies are yet to be made and details of the project still to be worked out.

The project envisages setting up a compost plant of 350 tonnes daily capacity for converting biodegradable waste into humus like organic fertiliser/soil enricher for use in agriculture. There are serious reservations about the utility, viability and practicality of the project.

The Executive Summary of the EIA for the proposed Sanitary Landfill & Composting Site, Kuberpur, Agra for UP Jal Nigam prepared by Grass Roots Research & Creation Pvt Ltd claims, "The proposed solid waste management facility shall involve conversion of waste to Refuse Derived Fuel (RDF) which has a high calorific value and can be used in power generation." The fact is that Agra waste has a low calorific value of about 800 cal/kg and the required calorific value is 2000-3000 cal/kg. Not surprisingly, so far all such plants have failed in the country. In fact a White Paper by Union Ministry of Environment and Forests says that the burning treatment of municipal waste is not feasible. The project is about 2 km away from the Taj Mahal and in the vicinity of the proposed Taj National Park.

At the public hearing, it emerged from the presentations of Irfan Furniturewala, owner of Mumbai based Hanjer Biotech Energies Pvt Ltd that burning of Refuse Derived Fuel (RDF) based waste-to-energy plant is part of the proposed compost plant and landfill site in India. The company in question has made unverified claims that it is running similar plants elsewhere in the country. The residents and villagers demanded that a public hearing be held after verifying such claims and after the scrutiny of the EIA report, Detailed Project Report and the Project Design document. To date the process has not been transparent, said Bahadur Singh, President, Rashtriya Panchayati Raj Gram Pradhan Sangathan, Agra. He strongly objected to urban waste being dumped in rural areas like Kuberpur.

Under instructions from and Union Urban Development Ministry and Union Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), this proposed project is being undertaken in violation of the Supreme Court orders dated May 15, 2007 in the Writ Petition (Civil) No. 888 of 1996 that recommends only Biomethanation-a biological technology- based waste to energy plant and not burn technology. These burn technologies include incineration & pelletisation or RDF (also misleadingly referred to as green coal). This project is receiving subsidies from MNRE, it is a 'top down' project since MNRE has issued an executive letter to the UP's Chief Secretary. So far, this project is being pushed ahead despite serious concerns, including - loss of livelihood for wastepickers, an already marginalised group; toxic releases, including air emissions, liquid discharges and ash/slag;waste of energy that could be saved by recycling, etc.; diversion of financial resources from environmentally friendly alternatives and greenwashing of waste disposal as 'climate-friendly' even as its polluting nature is undisputed

The RDF (Refuse-Derived Fuel) based project involves emission of Persistent Organic Pollutants like dioxins, furans and heavy metals like mercury and lead. Dioxins are cancer causing and endocrine disruptors with intergenerational health impacts. The ash that results from burning the waste is more complex than managing municipal waste. Clearly, the proposed solution is worse than the problem .

Instead of undertaking RDF projects, zero waste initiatives like recycling and composting can save more energy than what the proposed projects can generate giving more livelihood opportunities to the urban poor.

Institute of Public Health Engineers, Centre for Science and Environment, ToxicsWatch and several senior citizens and members of Supreme Court Monitoring Committee have expressed their opposition to this highly polluting and inappropriate waste treatment technology.

Delhi High Court bans plastic bags in all city markets

Written By Gopal Krishna on Saturday, August 16, 2008 | 5:24 AM

NEW DELHI: In a major step towards tackling the plastic menace, the Delhi high court on 7 August extended the ban on plastic bags to all markets in the city. Since hotels, hostels and shopping malls have already been declared no-plastic zones, the new order, if strictly enforced, will significantly reduce the use of this ecologically hazardous material.

The court also asked the Delhi government to increase the minimum permissible thickness of plastic bags from 20 microns to 40 microns and ordered the closure of all illegal recycling units in the city with immediate effect.

A bench headed by Justice T S Thakur, responding to a PIL by Vinod Jain of Tapas, asked the city government to consider the recommendations of the Justice Chopra committee. The panel, comprising Delhi Pollution Control Board chairman J K Dadoo, Central Pollution Control Board chairman J M Mauskar and retired judge R C Chopra, had sought the use of virgin plastic in place of recycled plastic, a ban on small plastic pouches and getting plastic manufacturers to set up a state-of-the-art recycling unit.

While the government representatives chose not to talk about the order, saying they hadn't received a copy of the judgment, petitioner Jain said this was the first step in completely phasing out plastic bags from the city.

"The court has banned the bag at all places where it is used the most. The only setback at this point appears to be the lack of a deadline for implementing the ban. The government may take forever with this order," he said.

Experts, however, point to another huge problem that may occur after the order on closure of illegal recycling units is enforced. Delhi recycles about 1.2 million tonnes of plastic a year of which about 90% is done illegally, say industry insiders. In the process, the industry uses up about 50% of the city's plastic waste. At present, Delhi has no other mechanism for handling its waste and most of it finds its way to sewers and the Yamuna. As one expert asked, "Once the illegal units are shut, what is to happen to all this waste?"

"Delhi Pollution Control Committee does not have sufficient staff for such an operation," a government official said. "Till some time back, DPCC did not even have a clear idea of the extent of illegal plastic recycling taking place in the city. The collection mechanism was based largely on ragpickers. While the order is good for the city, the government needs to plan out its course of action before implementing the order in a hurry."

Complete ban on plastic bags not possible in Delhi: Govt panel

Reasonable rates may be fixed for the plastic waste to encourage the rag pickers and others to collect and sell plastic bags waste

PTI

New Delhi: A complete ban on plastic bags in the national capital is impossible, a government panel has noted and suggested setting up of recycling units by the manufacturers on the basis of “polluter pays principle” to tackle the menace.
‘Environmentally-sound and economically-viable modern recycling units must be established by licensed plastic bags manufacturers or Plastic Manufacturers Associations on the basis of polluter pays principle,” the panel said in its report submitted before the Delhi High Court.

The panel comprising officials of Central Pollution Control Board, Delhi Pollution Control Committee and Justice R C Chopra was set up by the court while hearing a petition filed by activist V K Jain from NGO Tapas.

Jain has sought a complete ban on plastic bags in the city, maintaining that they are chocking drains and the Yamuna river and leading to water-borne diseases.
He said developed and developing countries like Germany, Singapore and Bangladesh have successfully banned the product.

The panel while maintaining that polythene bags are not easy to be banned, an observation which has brought a ray of smile on the face of plastic industry, also suggested setting up of a compaction unit for plastic recycling to be managed by the civic agencies at zonal level.

“Civic bodies namely Municipal Corporation of Delhi, New Delhi Municipal Corporation and Delhi Cantonment Board which handle and manage the solid waste in the city may be directed to encourage and support proper agencies for removal of plastic waste,“ the panel said in its report.

“If possible in every zonal office or dhalao, they should set up a plastic compaction unit where rag pickers or agencies may bring the plastic bags waste and get it compacted for sale to the recyclers,” it said.

Bringing to the notice of the Court about such machines being manufactured in Delhi, the panel said it has been found working satisfactorily at Sreekot, Shrinagar, Pauri Garhwal in Uttarakhand.

Along with compaction units, buy-back facilities can also be provided either by private entrepreneurs or by the state so that after compaction of plastic waste, it may be sold there itself, it added.

“Reasonable rates may be fixed for the plastic waste to encourage the rag pickers and others to collect and sell plastic bags waste,” the panel said.

The experts also sought steps to encourage discarded plastic bags or packaging products in segments like manufacturing of plastic furniture, non-critical household products like dustbins, mats, cloths hangers etc as well for construction of roads.

May 21 2008
MINT

India faced Plastic Waste Dumpeing in 2002

Earlier in February 2002, Denmark Environment Minister Hans C. Schmidt was profusely apologetic about the fact that his country had been sending plastic waste to India for re-cycling illegally. "This would be the last time something like this has happened," he said.

He was in Delhi for the Sustainable Development Seminar organised by TERI. Plastic is seen as one of the most unsustainable products as it is non-biodegradable.

A coalition of voluntary associations called NoPE (No Plastics in the Environment) had brought this fact to light and had met the Danish Deputy Head of Mission in New Delhi to apprise him of the situation as Denmark is also known for its commitment to environmental causes.

The last consignment from Denmark was of 400 tonnes. "This is the first case that has been brought to our notice but we believe that this illegal practice has been on," said Schmidt speaking to this website's newspaper.

Though the consignment from Denmark is not the cancer-causing PVC but acrylic polymers, it is seen as "plasticisation" of India when the country has more plastic it can deal with.

"As soon as it was brought to light, I contacted the firm through the municipality of the area and it seems that they did not know the rules," said Schmidt.

Since Denmark is a signatory to the Basel convention, it cannot send hazardous waste to to other countries without their permission.

The other guilty countries are Canada, Germany, the UK, the Netherlands, Japan, France and the US. More than 61,000 tonnes of plastic waste has already found way to the country in 1999-2000 as compared to 59,000 tonnes the year before.

On the one hand when Indian cities are grappling with mounds of plastic waste, data from the office of the Foreign Trade has shown that India has been a favoured ground for dumping plastic waste.

Since India has no law banning the import of plastic and the recycling industry is largely in the informal sector, countries with stricter environmental laws find it convenient to send it here.

Recycling in India is mainly an informal industry and contrary to belief is not environment-friendly.

In other countries, recycling is a state-of the-art facility making it an environmentally-friendly exercise. Plastics are supposed to be inherently unsustainable, coming as they do from non-sustainable petroleum sources.

From the cradle to the grave, they are implicated in a variety of problems such as environmental pollution, health hazards during manufacturing and recycling, toxic exposure to consumers during use and cattle deaths due to ingestion of plastic waste.

The Ministry of Environment and Forests has already made efforts to ban plastic bags by issuing a notification on the thickness of the bag.

A committee has also been set up under Justice Ranganath Mishra to suggest ways to deal with plastic waste. The committee is to give its report at the end of this month.

The Ministry of Environment and Forests has already made efforts to ban plastic bags by issuing a notification on the thickness of the bag. A committee has also been set up under Justice Ranganath Mishra to suggest ways to deal with plastic waste. The committee is to give its report at the end of this month.

Waste plant triggers public protests

Written By Gopal Krishna on Wednesday, August 06, 2008 | 9:45 PM

Bindu Shajan Perappadan

NEW DELHI: Residents staying close to the Delhi Government's proposed
waste-to-energy project at the Okhla sanitary landfill site have
intensified their protest against the project and demanded that it be
moved away from the residential area.

"We are not against the project as such and understand the need for
more waste-to-energy plants, but what we are against is the fact that
the plant is being set up in a residential area and has potentially
dangerous implications for the health of the residents. We will not
allow the plant to get started here," said Sukhdev Vihar Residents'
Welfare Association member Anil Mishra.

"The residents organised a protest on Monday when the plant was being
handed over to Jindal Urban Infrastructure Ltd. We got together to
express our anguish against the company and the Delhi Government for
ignoring grave public health concerns emanating from the toxic plant,"
he added.

"Ill planned"

Delhi Campaign for Safe Environment convener Gopal Krishna said: "The
residents are extremely angry and upset about the ill-conceived
planning by the government authorities. They fear that the proposed
plant will be using large quantities of municipal solid waste
containing plastic material and would surely affect the health of
residents living close to the proposed site."
Alarming prospect

Stating that the residents of Sukhdev Vihar and Hazi Colony are
alarmed at the prospect of this incinerator plant coming up so close
to their homes, he said: "Dioxins travel long distances in the
atmosphere and are found on plants, in water, soil, grazing animals
and humans. The plant is located inside dozens of densely populated
residential colonies. The government follows the policy of shifting
out and relocating all existing industries, then why is it setting up
a plant in this residential area?"

According to a release issued by the Delhi Campaign for Safe
Environment, the proposed Refuse Derived Fuel (RDF) combustion
technology that is to be used in the plant for electricity generation
had failed in Timarpur, Delhi, in 1990. Similar plants have failed in
Andhra Pradesh, too.

"Polluting technology"

"The Delhi Waste Master Plan refers to it as a polluting technology
that is adopted in countries whose environmental standards are lax.
The use of RDF implies burning of mixed waste including plastics and
paper to gain calorific value (up to 3000 kcal) of what is otherwise a
low-energy mix. Also, as per the Municipal Waste Handling and
Management Rules, the combustion of PVC plastics is banned," said Mr.
Krishna.

8 August, 2008
The Hindu

Missing US Nuclear-bug a threat to the Ganges

Written By Gopal Krishna on Tuesday, August 05, 2008 | 10:59 PM

On the eve of the Beijing Olympics, a climber has disclosed his role in a secret cold war mission to plant a nuclear-powered bugging device in the Himalayas to spy on China.

Robert Schaller, an amateur mountaineer and hospital doctor, was part of a team recruited by CIA. He carried the 40-pound device on his back as he climbed Nanda Devi, the highest peak wholly inside India.

The US spy agency hoped to use the device to monitor missile tests in China. The radioactive device was later lost in an avalanche. Even today, fears remain that it could break open and cause an environmental disaster by leaking radioactive material into the Ganga.

Schaller, 73, believes radiation from carrying the device caused the rheumatoid arthritis that was to prevent him practising surgery. He says in an interview in the Mountaineer magazine that he was selected by CIA for his medical expertise as well as his climbing skills.

Two Hollywood film companies are competing to be the first to make a movie based on the Himalaya missions. "It will be a cross between Charlie Wilson's War and Indiana Jones," said one insider.

Schaller was on his rounds at the University of Washington Hospital in Seattle when he was paged to the front desk where he met a man in a trench coat and dark glasses. The visitor opened his coat, showed him an airline ticket and whispered: "Do you want to go to the Himalayas?" Schaller jumped at the chance. It was 1965, the Chinese had detonated their first nuclear test the year before and had recently fought a war with India. Spy satellites were in their infancy and still unreliable.

Robert Schaller, an amateur mountaineer and hospital doctor, was given with a cover story that he was training as a scientist-astronaut and not even allowed to tell his wife what he was really doing.

He said last week: "It was very hush-hush. I would be flown somewhere, I don't know where, to train how to jump out of a helicopter and use plastic explosives... I went on six missions to the Himalayas in all over the next three years. It clearly contributed to the breakup of my marriage."

The first mission, to place the device on Nanda Devi, involved two other Americans and three Indians. The peak provided unfettered views into Xinjiang province to track Chinese missile tests.

"The device was about 18 inches round, one foot high and on an aluminium post with guide wires. It was powered by cylinders of plutonium about the size of a cigar," he said. The climbers reached 24,000ft and lashed the device to a ledge when they were hit by a blizzard. When they returned the entire ledge had been swept away.

Schaller said he later put a second device on the 22,510ft peak of Nanda Kot, 10 miles south, which beamed information back for two years to a CIA agent in Nepal. The CIA declined to comment this weekend. SUNDAY TIMES, LONDON.

Maurice Chittenden
3 August 2008

Schaller was hired by CIA to put a nuke device on Nanda Devi in 1965. It got lost, posing an environmental risk to Ganga

Waste-Pickers of Delhi

The original Delhi recyclers have turned garbage into cash for decades. Now, a carbon-credit-generating incinerator may put them out of business.



Waste Pickers of New Delhi

India's waste-pickers—often women and children—join free-ranging cows and other less sacred animals in a daily forage through the garbage of the streets. They've been recycling trash for decades, since long before recycling became fashionable in the West, and in Delhi, a 13-million-person metropolis, the waste-pickers number in the tens of thousands. For slum-dwellers, such recycling of plastic, paper, and metals—anything that can be turned into cash—is often the only source of income.

Bharati Chaturvedi, the director and cofounder of Chintan, a small Indian NGO that provides education to waste-pickers, claims that more than 1 percent of Delhi's population sifts through garbage, recycling as much as 59 percent of the city's waste. "These waste-pickers are providing a public service—for free," she says.

That may soon change. A new waste incinerator that turns trash into electricity is slated to be built in Timarpur, a suburb of Delhi. Because it will reduce the amount of methane off-gassed by landfills, it will generate carbon credits under the Kyoto Protocol. But the incinerator will also emit cancer-causing dioxins, mercury, heavy metals, and fly ash. Are the carbon credits available under Kyoto's Clean Development Mechanism worth putting thousands of impoverished waste-pickers out of business?

Kyoto's CDM was originally established to help finance clean energy projects in the developing world. Under the CDM, carbon credits generated in a poor country can be sold to a rich country, allowing that rich country to count the "emissions reductions" achieved in the poor country toward their own domestic carbon emissions targets. However, the CDM is rapidly becoming a subsidy for some of the dirtier industries—making coal-fired power plants slightly more fuel efficient, for example, or capturing waste heat from steel plants—and some brokers are growing rich on the schemes. The World Bank has handled many of these deals, charging a 13 percent commission on all of the carbon trades it brokers.

The Timarpur incinerator may be the first in a series of incinerators globally to benefit from the burgeoning global carbon market, despite India's informal and effective recycling industry and generally hostile posture toward incinerators. "We had managed to stop half a dozen of these dubious projects in the past," says Gopal Krishna, a public health researcher at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi. "But this time around, in the name of carbon credits, fraudulent claims are being made with impunity."

In Timarpur's case, the argument goes as follows: Incinerators will generate energy from waste; that waste used as fuel displaces fossil fuel use; thus all of the CO2 emissions that would have been generated had the energy come from fossil fuels should now qualify for carbon credit. To make the offer even more lucrative, incinerator companies can claim they are capturing and burning the methane that would have been released from rotting garbage. Because methane is a greenhouse gas 24 times more potent than CO2, the logic goes, in burning it, this incinerator avoids the release of tons of potent methane gas, releasing its far weaker cousin, CO2. A previous proposal to build a waste incinerator in Delhi in the early 1990s died a quiet death. The reason: "Delhi's garbage doesn't have enough burnable matter," says Neil Tangri of the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives. "It tends to be too wet, containing too much ash and sand and noncombustible inert materials." In other words, it doesn't contain much combustible material like plastic and paper—thanks in large part to the diligent waste-pickers.

A white paper produced by India's Ministry of Environment and Forests in 1997 concluded that incineration in the Delhi region was "not feasible" and that composting was the preferred route.

Such projects are a far cry from the "clean development" the CDM was intended to subsidize. However, there are more concerns: how to dispose of fly ash, the remains of incinerated waste. "I've been all over India," says Patricia Costner, science adviser to the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) and to the International POPS Elimination Network. "I know what happens to incinerator ash. Most of it ends up by the side of the road. There are no engineered landfills in India. Fly ash and bottom ash is required to be managed very carefully in most countries, but in India, they simply do not have the infrastructure to do that."

The improper disposal of incinerator waste presents a new problem for Delhi's poorest residents. "When waste-pickers are denied access to the waste stream, they go through the ash, looking for metal, the only substance to survive incineration intact," says Neil Tangri, waste and climate change campaign director for GAIA. "I've seen people thigh-deep picking through incinerator ash for metals. You're using the human body as a toxic absorber—you're basically spoon-feeding it to these people."

According to Tangri, the waste-pickers are now being harassed and denied access to the dry, high-calorie items the incinerator will devour. "They are effectively denying a livelihood to the poorest of the poor in setting up this incinerator," says Chaturvedi. "To take that miserable existence away, it's criminal. And now we're seeing skyrocketing food prices. What will these people do? Huge local skills in recycling are now being wiped out, skills essential for a sustainable society."

Daphne Wysham

Wysham is a fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, DC, and cohost of Earthbeat Radio.

Mother Jones, July/August 2008 Issue

Residents stop land transfer for toxic Waste to Energy plant

Written By Gopal Krishna on Monday, August 04, 2008 | 7:25 AM


Note:
Similar plants are proposed in Patna,Gurgaon, Navi Mumbai, Bangalore and Pune. Some 31 such plants are proposed all over the country as misplaced carbon credit projects.Such proposals expose the truth about carbon trade. (In the picture: Vilas Muttemwar, Union Minister for New and Renewable Energy responsible for promoting the toxic technology)..

Press Release

Residents stop land transfer for toxic Waste to Energy plant

04/8/2008 New Delhi: Land handover ceremony for the incineration based waste to energy (WTE) project that proposed in the residential area of Okhla (Sukhdev Vihar) was cancelled today amid bitter and almost violent protest from the residents. As a consequence, the scheduled transfer of land from NDMC to Jindal Urban Infrastructure Ltd for the proposed plant did not happen.

Residents including men, women and children turned up in huge number at the proposed plant site to express their anguish and against the company and Delhi government for ignoring grave public health concerns emanating from the toxic plant that would have inter-generational health impacts.

Jindal Urban Infrastructure Ltd has won the Rs.200-crore contract for setting up this plant. It has secured a contract from New Delhi Waste Processing Company Limited, a joint venture between the Delhi Government and Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Services Ltd. (IL&FS), to develop the 16 MW waste-based power plant in the city. The Union Ministry of New and Renewable Energy has a policy and a Master Plan to give subsidy to promote such projects. The raw material would be supplied to the company by the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) and the Municipal Corporation of Delhi.

Earlier, a team led by Rajendra Kumar, Secretary (Power) and Dr Ajay K Singh, Additional Secretary (Power), Delhi Government visited the site of the proposed waste-to-energy project at Okhla Sanitary Landfill site to look into the complaints of the residents of Sukhdev Vihar and Haji Colony on 19 July 2008. Residents were extremely angry and upset about the ill-conceived planning by the government authorities. They also showed him the water tank, which is located merely 100 meters away from the proposed site. The authorities did not know this earlier. They also fear that the proposed plant will be using large quantity of municipal solid waste containing plastic material, and would surely affect the health of the 200000 residents living close to the proposed site. Political leaders from the area categorically stated that they would not allow setting up such a hazardous pant that too in the residential area. Besides, the proposed plant is in violation of Supreme Court's order that has permitted only Biomethanation -a biological treatment technology. This matter came up for hearing hearing in the apex court on 28th July, 2008.

Residents in Sukhdev Vihar and Hazi Colony are rightly alarmed at the prospect of this incinerator plant from coming up in their city. Dioxins travel long distances in the atmosphere and is found on plants, in water, soil, grazing animals and humans.

The plant is located inside dozens of densely populated residential colonies. When the policy of the government is to shift or relocate all existing industries whatsoever from the residential areas, Why double standards? This is surely going to have serious health hazards for all the residents for all times to come. More than 1000 people turned up to oppose the project.

The proposed Refuse Derived Fuel (RDF) combustion technology that is to be used in the plant for electricity generation has failed in Timarpur, Delhi in 1990. Similar plants have failed in Andhra Pradesh too. Delhi Waste Master Plan rfers to it as a polluting technology that is adopted in countries whose environmental standards are lax.

The use of RDF implies burning of mixed waste including plastics and paper, to gain calorific value (up to 3000 kcal) of what is otherwise a low energy mix. (500 kcal). As per the Municipal Waste Handling and Management Rules, the combustion of PVC plastics is banned. In the making of RDF, we see no practical possibility of PVC plastics being segregated (from other plastics) in the waste stream since there is no labeling of such plastics as PVC or non-PVC, nor are PVC plastics picked out separately by waste pickers. In fact they pick out all plastics.

Combustion or incineration of waste is one of the key sources of dioxins worldwide. It is highly dangerous from a public health perspective. Dioxin particles are stored in fatty tissue and will accumulate to create "buildup" when low-level exposure is continual. It was used as a chemical weapon in the US-Vietnam war.

Dioxin is a human carcinogen. Non-Hodgkin_ s lymphoma and cancers of the liver, lung, stomach, soft and connective tissue have been associated with dioxin.

Even at very low exposure, at levels of parts per trillion, dioxin causes immune system damage, hormone disruption, and reproductive and development effects. Some newer emission control devices have been effective in decreasing recorded dioxin air emissions from incinerators, but there is no safe level additional exposure to dioxins. This is because the average daily dioxin intake for is already 200 times higher than what the US Environment Protection Agency (USEPA) defines as a safe dose for adults.

Those most at risk of receiving the highest concentrations are babies. Studies also show elevated levels of dioxin in the blood of people living near municipal solid waste incinerators when compared to the general population. Similar projects are proposed in Timarpur and Ghazipur in Delhi.

Such projects are against the cardinal principles of sane waste management-Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. There is no alternative to a Zero Waste Initiative that includes-waste minimization, waste segregation at source and biological treatment method.

For details:

Gopal Krishna, Convener, DCSE E-mail: krishnagreen@gmail.com,

Mb: 98180896609

Anil Mishra, Sukhdev Vihar Welafre Association, Mb: 9313422881

Hazi Rais, President, Hazi Colony Welfare Association, Mb: 9213427436

Niyamgiri: Between Green Cover & Green Currency

Written By Gopal Krishna on Sunday, August 03, 2008 | 2:34 AM

Corporate Assault on the Sacred Mountains

At a Roundtable on “Decimation of Niyamgiri: Beyond land and forests” at Vishwa Yuvak Kendra, New Delhi on 2 August 2008 stark facts like commodification of court's judgments and votes of legislators came to the fore.

UK’s mining company, Vedanta is killing Bansadhara river, Orissa by its illegal dumping of waste toxins that has killed all the fish and made the river unusable for bathing. Orissa State Pollution Control Board has asked Vedanta to clean up their act.

On July 31, 2008, Vedanta Alumina Ltd's (VAL) had its annual general meeting (AGM) in London. A delegation of tribals from Orissa came all the way to London to confront Anil Agarwal, the owner of a company that is planning to mine bauxite from a mountain considered sacred by them. Environmental and human rights groups support them since the layer of bauxite on the mountains acts as a sponge for the monsoon rains, releasing the water steadily throughout the year and ensuring fertility of the forests and crops.

One activist who had attended the AGM briefed the participants of the Round Table about Vedanta’s operations being comparable to the way the English East India Company took power in the 18th century, by manipulating law and finance.

Deliberations and reflections on relevant Supreme Court's orders, National Mineral Policy, 2008, decimation of the nation-state and emergence of corporate state evoked sharp reactions when comparisons were drawn with the goings on in Bastar, Kolar Gold Mines and POSCO's projects.

Why is it that our Prime Minister and the nation state is no more with people or on the fence, it has crossed over to the industry's side. What else can explain the fact that in Hokkaido, Japan, Manmohan Singh assured his help to POSCO's steel plant at Jagatsinghpur in Orissa.

Niyamgiri mountain situated in Kalahandi and Rayagada districts, in Orissa is facing the threat of being mined. Dongaria Kond community dependent on this mountain for ages, they have preserved this mountain as the Lord of law as result a rich primary forest can be seen there even at this age of deforestation. People dependent on Niyamgiri have been up against the mining plans and have shown their anguish and determination to fight it out in more than one occasion.

Vedanta Alumina Ltd has set up alumina refinery at Lanjigarh, Kalahandi, Orissa keeping Supreme Court’s Central Empowered Committee (CEC) in dark about its bauxite mining project. It took environmental clearance for the alumina refinery project by delinking its mining project from it. Now it wants to undertake bauxite mining project arguing that the refinery cannot function without mining.

World's second largest sovereign pension fund, a $350 billion (Rs13.76 trillion) sovereign wealth fund run by Norway has sold its entire stake in Vedanta Resources Plc., a mining and metals company with a significant presence in India, and operations in Zambia, Australia and Armenia because of what one Norwegian government official referred to as "environmental and human rights violations" by the firm. Norway government withdrew its US$13 million in the UK-based Vedanta Resources because Vedanta has "forced relocation" of indigenous tribes in India.

Day-long interactive session with activists, academicians, lawyers, journalists and other concerned citizens took stock of the going on in the judicial corridors and attempted to understand why the traditional community is refusing to accept the state sponsored development agenda and what Niyamgiri means to them. This is not a mere struggle against a Company but the struggle is to protect a civilization woven around the mountain for centuries.

Niyamgiri is in a Schedule V area where, under the Constitution, the tribals should have authority over their local resources. Niyamgiri mountain is vital to the region's ecology and its human population. The unethical, immoral and ecologically destructive nature of the proposed mining project has caused a furore in both India and the UK and the matter is in the Indian Supreme Court.

But the court’s journey from being a protector of environment to becoming a threat seems complete. What else can explain the inconsistency between apex court’s order in the Kudermukh matter that was decided on October 2002 and the order of November 2007 in the Niyamgiri mountain matter.

In 2002 Justice Mr.Arjit Pasayat argued that “By destroying nature, environment, man is committing matricide, having in a way killed Mother Earth. Technological excellence, growth of industries, economical gains have led to depletion of natural resources irreversibly. Indifference to the grave consequences, lack of concern and foresight have contributed in large measures to the alarming position. In the case at hand, the alleged victim is the flora and fauna in and around Kudermukh National Park, a part of the Western Ghats. The forests in the area are among 18 internationally recognized "Hotspots" for bio-diversity conservation in the world.”

In 2007, he said, “Damage to the environment and ecology has got to be decided on the facts of the each case.” Setting up Alumina Refinery - Whether Vedanta Alumina Ltd should be allowed to set up its Refinery/Project known as “Alumina Refinery Project”. Applicant has obtained all necessary clearances. Adherence to the principle of Sustainable Development is now a constitutional requirement.

Samadrusti, a fortnighly journal from Orissa in its editorial alleged in February 2008 that a Supreme Court Judge, responsible for implementing laws protecting forests, is hand-in-glove with some of those companies responsible for decimating the sacred mountains. Justice Mr.Arjit Pasayat who hails from Orissa serves as the Judge on forest bench of the Supreme Court says, "those who focus too much on protection of forest and wildlife.... harm the society at large"...''Green cover versus green currency. We have to choose between the two….." at a seminar at Hotel Swosti Plaza, Bhubaneswar

The editorial notes, “There is no harm if Mr. Pasayat makes such partisan statements like this after resigning from his constitutional responsibility as an Apex Court Judge. He should remember the fact that all his judgments delivered by the virtue of being in the Forest Bench have gone in favor of the Corporate Sector…Niyamgiri, Tangarapada etc.”

“Given his record, we are convinced to suggest that after his Bhubaneswar speech, Justice Pasayat should resign from his present constitutional position and come out in open in favor of private companies in Orissa. Till the time he takes such a decision he should at least keep himself away from hearing all cases relating to Orissa-because we don't believe after speaking so much against established laws of the country he will be able to protect them.”

It is noteworthy that Justice Pasayat created a rare spectacle by not letting a senior advocate of impeccable repute like Sanjay Parikh to even argue on behalf of the tribals of Niyamgiri in language that does not behove the stature of any judge. His manifest antagonism towards public interest lawyers has become the topic of whispers in the corridors of the apex court and among journalists.

It has been reported that London Metal Exchange has sent a team to investigate the Anil Agarwal’s company’s acts of omission and commission.

For tribal people, when they are "displaced" they are forcibly dispossessed of everything they value: community, land, forest, water - "even their gods are destroyed". For them these projects are "anti-development": if that's the way mainstream society wants to go, why should they sacrifice the Adivasis, who have done least to deserve this?

The fate of Niyamgiri mountain and the indigenous peoples' efforts against corporate state's reform agenda is also a struggle to save, protect and preserve what has been deemed sacred for centuries by the human civilization from the naked lust for profit.

Supreme Court's notice to Centre on landfill site

Written By Gopal Krishna on Saturday, August 02, 2008 | 10:06 PM

The Supreme Court on 28th July sought a response from Union of India on Municipal Corporation of Delhi's plea seeking permission for land in Bhatti Mines to establish a landfill site there.

A bench headed by Chief Justice KG Balakrishnan issued notice to the Centre and Delhi Government after senior advocate Ravi Shankar Prasad claimed on behalf of the MCD that the corporation was facing shortage of land for landfill sites. Prasad said the 477 acre in Bhatti Mines would take care of Delhi's waste for the next 30 years.

The MCD has been moved to the apex court since the Bhatti Mines is notified as a forest area. An earlier order of the Supreme Court also restrains allotment of the area for the purpose of a landfill site. The existing landfill sites in the National Capital Territory have already reached a critical state.

MCD says, the failure to identify and bring into operation a suitable site would lead to dumping and random tipping of wastes in the city and surrounding areas. The Bhatti mine site is preferred over other sites as it has sufficient capacity for disposing of waste for 20 years and the site is not near any residential area and is outside the airport restriction zone.

Delhi Chief Minister has also expressed the need for landfill sites in the National Capital Region, to cope with the disposal of garbage in the city.

Delhi produces about 7000 metric tonnes of garbage each day and almost all the land filling sites in the city have run out of space. The civic authorities collect about 4000 tonnes of garbage each day, but that is often woefully short, resulting in other complications, including poor sanitation and health problems.

The move denotify the Asola and Bhatti Wildlife Sanctuary, which is also a Reserve Forest under the Indian Forests Act 1927, for the purposes of garbage dumping would adversely affect the ecology of the city.

The sanctuary, which forms a part of the Delhi Ridge, is the green lung of the city, providing it with a multi layered canopy of scrub forest, and buffering the city from the desert sand of Rajasthan, besides being host to a wonderful ecosystem of birds, insects and small mammals. Denotifying it will amount to destroying the last remaining portion of the Delhi Ridge, and will also violate various Supreme Court directives.

Landfills have a huge potential to contaminate groundwater, destroy the surrounding environment owing to waste toxicity, and defile the forest owing to the associated activity surrounding the landfills.

The landfill will kill the nascent forest, which has just begun to come back to life after years of efforts, since it was notified as a Sanctuary in 1991 and later as a Reserve Forest in 1996 by the Supreme Court after concerted citizen’ action. The pits proposed for land filling are currently green and lush with vegetation. It is a forest in the making.

MCD states that the site has sparse vegetation and there are no endangered species. There will be, on the contrary, better growth after filling up of pits. Further the site is not home to any endangered fauna and those present are common species.

MCD claims that there was no surface water source in the vicinity of the disposal site and there would be no long-term impact on ground water as leachate collection and disposal has been planned in the design. There will be a marginal withdrawal of ground water for vehicle washing and there would be no long-term impact on ground water table.

The fact is Bhatti mines area is an ideal rainwater harvesting zone. It is ironical that while the Delhi Government is escalating efforts to increase rain water harvesting, one of the largest potential areas is now being turned into a garbage dump.

Managing waste in Delhi needs creative solutions like setting up large- scale composting plants on existing landfill sites, promoting recycling of plastics and metals, and involving communities in collection schemes. Destroying the forest will only result in a choked and desertified Delhi, a situation that is not retrievable.

For the Oad tribesmen, artisans in stone-cutting and quarrying, who migrated from the Multan-Bahawalpur salient, now in Pakistan, it will be losing paradise twice over — the first when they had to leave their natural habitat to preserve their Hindu existence or face extinction or mass conversion — and now the second time if they are evicted from homes in Sanjay Colony, Indira Nagar and Balbir Nagar, situated on the crest of the Aravalli Hills that form the Southern Ridge in the National Capital Region.

They are not squatters or illegal occupants of government land but retrenched employees of a defunct government institution who were legally settled in their present location and have sought humane treatment of their cause.

They have pointed out that their colonies were inaugurated by Sanjay Gandhi and Jagmohan 16 years before the area was notified as a sanctuary; that they were members of the gram panchayat system with voting rights; that 22 families were given ownership rights to 120 sq yd plots at a function immortalised in photographs and the rest were promised the same; that alternative accommodation at Jaunapur six kilometres away was stymied by the Association of Farm House Owners which objected to the transplantation of quarry workers to their own sylvan setting.

As a result, the 63 acres on which model houses were constructed at a cost of Rs 11 crore for those who were to be evicted from Bhatti has become colonisers’ booty, the residents of Sanjay Colony, Indira Nagar and Balbir Nagar say and point out that alternative accommodation now on offer at Holabi Kalan, 76 kilometers away, is a cesspool of teeming humanity living in sub-human conditions on roads.

The Central Ground Water Board has not been consulted about the ramifications of dumping garbage in the disused mines. The Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) of Bhatti Mines has been analysed and critiqued. The REIA document is fake in the sense that it does not reflect the reality of Bhatti Mines' ecologically fragile nature.

Separate legislation for e-Waste management

More than 80 percent of electronic waste generated in the U.S. ends up in India, China or Nigeria, endangering the health of those countries’ poorest citizens who are forced to dismantle the often-toxic materials without adequate protection.

India’s rapidly growing mobile phone, PC and TV market has forced the country to take a hard look at their policies regarding e-waste. The facts are these - the Indian PC market is booming with PC and notebook sales coming in at 6.34 million units in 2006-07; mobile phones show a sales figure of approximately 93 million units mark in 2007; televisions, which currently register at 58 million units, are expected to increase to an incredible number of 234 million units in 2015.

While this is a good thing for the marketplace, it also means that the country also has a rate of obsolesce rate of 30% per year. Statistics show that approximately 2.2 million computers and 14 million mobile phones will be tossed away by end of this year. That means that the approximate e-waste generation in India is approximately 3,800,000 tonnes per year.

India also receives a large amount of e-waste through trade and illegal imports. Although India’s Hazardous Waste Rules of 1989 prohibit the “import of e-waste without prior permission from the ministry of environment and forests (MoEF)”, import of e-waste is permitted if it is to be used for processing and reuse of the units’ raw materials.

Also permitted by law is the importing of second hand computers less than 10 years old and donations of computers to non-profit organisations. Additionally, an estimated 50% to 80% of e-waste is exported from the U.S. and is dumped in countries like India, where environment protection regulations are not nearly as stringent.

IT products manufacturers on 17 July proposed inclusion of a legislation exclusively for e-waste management in the existing waste management policy of the Ministry of Environment and Forest.

India generated 3.3 lakh tonnes of e-waste in 2007 and is going to touch 4.7 lakh tonnes by 2011, therefore there is a great need for an inclusive eco-friendly recycling process, said a study released by MAIT-GTZ.

"Looking at the current scenario of the growing e-wastes in the country, I think the government should look at framing separate guidelines for the management and recycle of these wastes," said Manufacturers' Association for Information Technology (MAIT) Executive Director Vinnie Mehta.

At present, there are separate policies for bio-medical wastes and municipal solid wastes under the umbrella of hazardous wastes (management and handling) rule, but there is no separate regulation for recycle and management of e-wastes, whereas the wastes from electronic goods are growing at a faster pace, said the study.

The association along with other stakeholders in the discussion also advocated for inclusion of Extended producer responsibility (EPR) in the proposed guidelines, as it will make the IT component producers more accountable for the entire life cycle of the product.

"EPR should be made mandatory for all the producers of electrical and communication components and a producer's responsibility protocol should be there," said IT department special secretary M Madhavan Nambiar.

Mumbai seeking site for e-waste treatment

Mumbai, which tops the list in generating the highest amount of electronic waste in the country, is all set to have an exclusive site for e-waste.

Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) and Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) officials would be meeting this week to finalise a site exclusively to treat and dump e-waste.

Since e-waste management doesn't come directly under the purview of the municipal corporations, MPCB and MMRDA have come forward for this pilot project, the sources said.

A recent study has revealed that Mumbai is not just the leading generator of electronic waste in the country, but also that the rate at which the commercial capital is throwing away electronic goods is far higher than believed so far, the sources said.

The study shows that besides generation of 19,000 tonnes of electronic waste annually - inclusive of computers, televisions, refrigerators and washing machines- Mumbai receives a good amount of it through clandestine imports from the developed world.

The study also indicates that Delhi and adjoining areas are receiving a substantial part of Mumbai's electronic discards, both internal as well as imported, particularly computer printed circuit boards (PCBs) that are too dangerous to be handled in congested areas of Mumbai.

Besides officials of the two organisations, experts on waste management will also attend the meeting, which will dwell on finalising a site for treating e-waste for the entire Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR).

MMRDA has also mooted a site for construction and demolition wastes generated through projects implemented by the MMRDA, which is the biggest generator of construction and demolition waste due to its several infrastructure projects.

As there is no separate site for dumping such wastes, the sheer volume of waste generated overburdens the existing landfill sites.

Delhi and the National Capital Region (NCR) recycle its e-waste at plants it had set up in various places, including one in the holy town of Haridwar. This plant has an annual recycling capacity of 12,000 tonnes.

Interstate transportation of e-waste

The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), however, claim that e-waste can be carried to other states for recycling purposes, but cannot be dumped in other states.

Delhi employs 25,000 workers at its scrap yards, which handle 10,000-20,000 tonnes of e-waste annually. 25 per cent of the e-waste generated here are computers.

The scrap yard workers are unaware of the toxic substances in e-waste and hence take scant protection against any harmful effects. Instances of workers suffering from tuberculosis, asthma and skin diseases are common.

The workers have to handle lead, cadmium, zinc, mercury and various other toxic elements, which have the potential to harm human health and environment.

The e-waste contains significant quantities of toxic metals and chemicals, which affect blood systems, kidneys, brain, spleen and also interfere with regulatory hormones, causes skin diseases including cancer, neurological and respiratory disorders, and birth defects.

Shastri Nagar and Seelampur in Trans-Yamuna area are among scrap dumping and processing grounds in Delhi.

Some 94 per cent of the organisations in India do not have a policy with regard to disposal of IT products.

The Indian mobile phone market adds about six million mobile phones every month. With 256.55 million phones, mobile penetration in the country is at 22.52 per cent. India expects to reach 500 million subscribers by 2010-end.

Currently, there are over 75 million mobile users in India and the number is expected to increase to 200 million by 2008-end. India has about 16 million computers, which are expected to grow to 75 million by 2010, with more than over two million old machines waiting to be disposed.

The energy and raw materials used to produce millions of new mobile phones contributes to CO2 emissions.

Companies such as Nokia, Lenovo and HCL have formulated free take back programs and have outsourced recycling facility for old systems.

Motorola and LG have also joined Nokia and other companies in selling phones without the various toxic chemicals such as lead, calcium, mercury and many more, which affects health and the environment.

Nokia is encouraging the recycling of unwanted devices through a series of campaigns and activities, providing information on how to go about recycling old devices, chargers and other mobile accessories.

The products can be dropped off at Nokia's retail stores and Nokia Care Centres worldwide.

Using the best recycling technology, nothing is wasted. Between 65 per cent and 80 per cent of phones can be recycled.

Plastics that can't be recycled are burnt to provide energy for the recycling process and other materials are ground into chips and used as construction materials or for building roads.

In India, the total e-waste generation is approximately 3.8 lakh tonnes annually. And in the world, it is more than 20 million tonnes per year.

According to the third draft guidelines for environmentally sound management of e-waste issued by the CPCB, the inventory is expected to exceed eight lakh tonnes by 2012.

Sixty-five cities in India generate more than 60 per cent of the total e-waste generated in the country. Ten states generate 70 per cent of the total e-waste generated in India.

Maharashtra ranks first followed by Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Delhi, Karnataka, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Punjab in the list of e-waste generating states in India.

Among the top ten cities generating e-waste, Mumbai ranks first followed by Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai, Kolkata, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Pune, Surat and Nagpur.

WASTE DUMPING AT PALLIKARANAI WET LANDS

The Committee of Experts appointed by the Hon'ble High Court of Judicature at Madras in W.P.Nos.18888 of 1997 and W.P.No.13105 of 2002 to study the impact of waste dumping in Pallikaranai wet lands has been directed to submit its report based on the following terms of reference:-

1. As to the suitability of the present site for usage and the continuance thereof as a municipal solid waste ground and location of the sewerage treatment plant;
2. to review compliance of the various legislations, guidelines, rules and regulations in relation to dumping of solid waste and discharge of sewage;
3. to review the earlier studies done by various agencies including M/s. ERM consultants, Tahal Consulting Engineers, the National Productivity Council and other consultants and institutions.
4. to review the measures undertaken and proposed to protect the Pallikaranai marsh and render requisite suggestions for restoration and protection of the marsh.
5. to suggest measures for remediation of the land and the ground water, flora and fauna in Pallikaranai marsh and the four villages, viz. Seevaram, Pallikaranai, Thoraipakkam and Perungudi in the light of the dumping of garbage effected and discharge of sewerage.
6. to consider the cumulative aspects of dumping of garbage, discharge of sewerage and conversion of the marsh lands to other use and to suggest scientific alternative methods of dumping of garbage and discharge of sewage in the light of the methods adopted in other countries in this regard.
7. to recommend the steps to be taken and measures to be adopted for protection and restoration of Pallikaranai marsh.
8. to conduct public hearing to ascertain the views of the residents of the four villages, viz. Seevaram, Pallikaranai, Thoraipakkam and Perungudi.
9. to ascertain the life of Perungudi dumping ground and suggest long-term suitable measures for the extension of life of the dumping ground.

Members of the public are invited to give their written comments and suggestion on or before 8th August 2008 to the undersigned.
The Expert committee also proposes to hold a public hearing on a date to be announced.
Tmt.Sheela Rani Chunkath, I.A.S,
Chairperson, TIIC and
Convener,
High Court Expert Committee on Pallikarani Wet Land

New No :692, Anna Salai, Nandanam,
Chennai-600035, Tamilnadu.
Contact Phone: 091-044-24331203

Fax Number : 091-044-24347209
Email Address : pallikaranai.expert.committee@gmail.com


PEOPLE"S SAARC DECLARATION, COLOMBO – 2008

TOWARDS A PEOPLES UNION OF SOUTH ASIA

20 July 2008
===========================

The South Asian People's Assembly(Colombo, 18-20 July) resolves to issue the Peoples SAARC Declaration at this gathering of representatives from SAARC countries.
We, members of social movements, labour unions, women's groups and civil society organisations have gathered here in Colombo from 18-20 July 2008, as part of the process of Peoples SAARC, to forge a vision for a Peoples Union of South Asia.

This year's People's SAARC culmination in Colombo is the continuum of a process of more than a decade. The last peoples SAARC gathering in Kathmandu in March 2007 reaffirmed the South Asian peoples' commitment to creating a better South Asia free from all forms of discrimination, marginalisation and domination.

We represent a rich and wonderful diversity of cultures, languages, religions and a multiplicity of identities and are linked by shared histories, geographies and cultural practices.

We believe we have the opportunity and strength to transform our social, economic and political futures to ensure that all our peoples can live in peace, security and dignity.

For this to become a reality, we must take a collective stand against all structures of oppression, discrimination and violence facing the people of the region. We uphold the equality of all countries in the region, and condemn attempts of any one country to dominate the region. We stand for a secular, democratic, equal, peaceful and just South Asia. We will ensure that those who have been traditionally marginalised from political processes, such as dalits, women, indigenous peoples, ethnic, religious and sexual minorities, will be in the forefront of this political project.

This involves creating a discourse on democratic and participatory political processes which respect national and local priorities and take into consideration the very real inequalities between the different states in the region. We are ready to take on this challenge through resolute struggle.

We hail the people's movements for democracy and peace and against dictatorship and monarchy, that are ongoing in the countries in the region

After discussions and debates for three days at plenary sessions and over thirty workshops we affirm our commitment to achieving the following goals and aspirations;

To build a South Asian identity based on our diversities and common histories. We Reject bigotry, jingoism and hatred and will work towards ensuring that enmity between countries is not propagated through instruments such as the media and education.

Resolutely oppose intervention of USA and war exercises both in the region and elsewhere. Reject the so called War on Terror which is nothing but an attempt to cover up warmongering by USA and its allies to target ordinary citizens.
South Asian countries to commit to a no-war pact and declare the region as nuclear-free. This also involves the drastic reduction of defence budgets and de-militarisation of the region.

Free movement of peoples in the region or in other words a visa-free South Asia
Restoration and creation of rail, road and sea-links that meet the needs of people. Encouraging and facilitating people- to- people contact and communication in the region.

Peaceful and just resolution of all conflicts in the region, including those on the border, through political negotiations, and revoking so called national security laws that give a free-hand to state authorities to commit atrocities against their own peoples.

Operationalisation of food sovereignty through building alliances of women, peasants and agriculture labour. This would involve the creation of seed and grain banks, promotion of participatory research and sustainable technologies and the rejection of monopolitistic and environmentally destructive technologies such as genetically modified organisms.

Fisherpeople's right to fish in territorial waters be recognized and legally protected through proper mechanisms. Innocent fishers incarcerated for wandering into neighboring territorial waters be immediately released.

The right to mobility is a human right. Migrants should be assured of dignity and right of work as well as physical protection, basic amenities and adequate wages. The victims of trafficking must be protected, especially women and children. Similarly, the rights of individuals and communities subjected to forced displacement due to conflict, disaster, and development projects should be protected.

Ensuring rights of all workers, especially women and dalit workers in accordance with the International Labour Organisation Convention, United Nations Covenants and National Constitutions.

The setting up of regional institutions and mechanisms such as a South Asian Tribunal of Justice to address human rights violations Those responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity must be prosecuted. Protection to be guaranteed for right of dissent, protest and organization. We call for the immediate release of political, social, media activists and prisoners of conscience in the region.

Recognizing the universality of visibility, opportunity, equal rights and dignity for all people, including excluded groups and minorities: ethnic, sexual, gender and people with disabilities. Recognize the prevalence of patriarchy, religious extremism and caste based discrimination that deny human dignity, socio, economic, political equality and justice to the 260 million dalits of in the SAARC countries
Achieving Climate justice by ensuring that the burden of adjustment is borne by the elites. This requires a fundamental departure from the current industrial and economic paradigm in the region. Also, people's rights to information, knowledge, skills, housing, education, health, food security and their organizations must be fulfilled to strengthen their resilience to hazards such as floods, droughts and cyclones.

The creation of alternative regional trade and economic co-operation frameworks that meet the needs and aspirations of small producers and labour. This will ensure the defeat of neo-liberal instruments such as the World Trade Organisation and Free Trade Agreements in the region. (In the light of current attempts to revive the flawed WTO Doha Round we commit to work with groups across the region and elsewhere to ensure that no deal comes out of the WTO Mini-Ministerial Meeting at Geneva from 21-25 July 2008.)

Recognition of health, education, housing as basic human rights. The scaling up of public infrastructure such as housing, health, education and other civic amenities through democratic sources of development finance. We urge equitable quality education to all children through common school system in the region.. We oppose the privatisation of these services and uphold the principle of basic services for all. We particularly assert the rights of those affected by disasters.

Upholding knowledge commons, rather than monopolies of corporations. Adoption of free and open source software and open standards in all e-governance projects. Setting up of a South Asian resources pool for free software which enables international relations with knowledge sharing.

Unconditional cancellation of loans from International Financial Institutions & bilateral debt.

We call upon Government representatives at the 15th SAARC Summit at Colombo to seriously address these concerns and demands of the people of the region.
SAARC must be made accountable to the citizens of the countries in the region.

We celebrate the struggles for democracy and resistance to neo-liberalism and imperialism in the region and in particular the victory of the people's movement in Nepal. Our Peoples Union of South Asia is a rainbow coalition of democratic forces. We pledge to continue to learn, inspire and empower each other to realise this vision.

EU: To help to shelter the Environment from hazardous chemicals

Our Environment is contaminated by many dangerous chemicals. They are
in our rivers, countryside, cities and in the air. Persistent Organic
Pollutants, the most dangerous, accumulate in the environment and our
food and are believed to interfere with reproductive and immune
systems, imitate hormones and cause cancer.

1st of June 2008 was an important day for the New European Chemical
Testing Policy called REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation
& restriction of CHemicals). In Helsinki, Finland, the European
Chemicals Agency which manages the implementation of this legislation
started the process of pre-registration of existing substances.
Before 1981 in Europe chemicals were put on the market without being
adequately safety tested. REACH aims to classify the toxicity of
about 30,000 substances used in quantities of over 1 tonne a year but
still depends significantly on animal testing. When you consider the
technological advances that have been made in recent years and that
many animal tests have remained unchanged for over 60 years this may
not be good enough. As this will ultimately determine which chemicals
will be allowed to be used in Europe and which will not this will
make a profound difference to the number of hazardous chemicals in
our environment.

The European Commission has estimated that Reach will cost industry
between 2.8bn and 5.2bn euros over 11 years. This will be an
inefficient use of resources if reliance is on outdated animal
testing instead of making the most of new technological advances.
Many alternatives exist which are quicker, cheaper and more reliable
than animal tests. However, for these to be trusted and validated
takes investment and a commitment to make medical progress a
priority. REACH must make sure that all chemicals are tested with the
most accurate and trustworthy methods and new techniques must be
developed if only animal testing is available.

The criteria necessary to validate alternatives are strict and
comprehensive. Validated alternatives are legally trusted as suitable
replacements for animal tests. However, the European Commission's
list of approved methods does not include non-animal techniques that
were approved for scientific validity in 2007 by the European Centre
for the Validation of Alternative Methods ( ECVAM ). This is a delay
which has been criticised by the MEPs of the European parliament
because it will encourage companies to avoid using validated human
based alternatives and continue using animal tests instead. ECVAM
does important work but if they are to achieve what we all want - a
comprehensive system of scientific tests to accurately find and
eliminate all toxic chemicals from the environment - their efforts
must be supported and acknowledged.

Concerned citizens can contact their MEPs and ask them to support at
every opportunity the validation and approval of alternative methods
for all future testing of chemicals.

For UK Citizens, protecting ourselves from dangerous substances can
start in the home. It is well known from research that our homes are
contaminated with many hazardous substances. Some of these come from
traffic fumes and industrial pollution. Many more are present in
household products and safeguarding our health and environment
includes testing these with modern methods we can trust. Early Day
Motion 1215 asks the British Government to take measures to prevent
the testing of household products and their ingredients on animals.
For these chemicals testing will only be by validated non-animal
methods based on human biology. Ideally about 200 MP signatures are
needed for this to be influential.

Complete details on EDM 1215 including who has signed at
http://edmi.parliament.uk

For more information visit:-
http://www.europarl.europa.eu
http://ec.europa.eu/environment/
http://www.eceae.org

Tony Gallett
 
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