A chance to waste

Both the CPI(M) and the Samata Party, have come out with public statements urging the Union Government to ratify the Basel ban that seeks to prohibit the movement of hazardous waste from Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries to non- oecd countries. However, they have made it clear that they have drawn the line only as far as poisonous waste is concerned. Import of non-contaminated recyclable waste has not been opposed by them.

In a letter to the minister of state for environment and forests, Saifuddin Soz, general secretary of the CPI (M), Harkishen Singh Surjeet said: "It will not be wise to allow any loopholes, which would bypass the convention and allow the import of hazardous waste, to exist. This stand of course applies to contaminated waste and not non-contaminated recyclable waste. We should ensure that the onus of regulating the export of hazardous waste should be on the exporting country.' The politbureau of the CPI (M) has also requested the government of India to take a firm and clear decision in the matter so that the Indian delegation to the cop iv can ratify the ban. cop iv is the fourth conference of parties that was to have taken place in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in October. The meeting has now been indefinitely postponed due to the haze that has engulfed the region.

George Fernandes of the Samata Party issued a press statement in which he pointed out that the Indian government has not clarified the position it will take at the meeting. "It appears that, under pressure from waste exporting countries like the us , the Indian government may dilute the essence of the convention and keep open its options of remaining a dumpyard for the world's toxic waste,' he alleged. In fact, earlier attempts by Down To Earth (See Vol 6, No 9) to get the ministry of environment and forests (MEF) to reveal the stance the Indian delegation would take at cop iv had been stonewalled. Ministry officials simply stated that hazardous waste would not be allowed into the country. India faces a peculiar situation. If it agrees to the ban, the fertiliser and non-ferrous metals industry in India would be hit hard. On the other hand, there are fears that if India does not agree to the ban, there would be an unprecedented influx of waste into the country under the pretext of recycling, only to be dumped.

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