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Issue 27
, 2010
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‘Govt. dragging its feet on hazardous waste management'

Source: The Hindu, New Delhi, Date: , 2010

Environmentalists in the Capital have accused the Delhi Government of dragging its feet over the issue of managing hazardous waste as the city is yet to have a proper data bank of its scrap dealers, the amount of hazardous waste being generated and its proper disposal.

“Despite the recent accident where workers handling radioactive scrap were seriously injured, the Delhi Government is yet to wake up and take stock to ensure that an accident of this nature is not repeated,'' laments environmentalist Vinod Kumar Jain.

“The State officials still have no proper data bank on how much hazardous waste is being handled by the scrap dealers. The condition of the rest of the country is no different with the Central Pollution Control Board not having a city-wise break up of the amount of hazardous waste that is generated in the country and how it is disposed,'' says Mr. Jain, who had asked for information under the RTI Act on the amount of hazardous waste being handled by scrap dealers city-wise and especially in Delhi.

CPCB officials claim it is the Union Environment and Forests Ministry that is the nodal agency for import and export of recyclable hazardous waste and other types of recyclable wastes in the country. “But it isn't only about account-keeping that we are worried about,'' says environmentalist Gopal Krishna. “In India hazardous waste is often renamed as recyclable metal scrap and put back into the market without giving a serious thought to the damage that it can cause. In Delhi we aren't able to collect and dispose this hazardous waste in a clean manner so that it does not harm either the environment or people handling it,'' he adds.

Ruing that the Capital currently has poor management of hazardous waste, Mr. Krishna says: “Delhi does not have adequate landfill sites to manage its waste. What often gets done while disposing of this type of waste is to bury it underground, put it in low-lying areas, mix it with other waste or simply leave it in a factory compound.''

He notes that factories in the country that generate hazardous waste are required to put up a notice board outside stating the nature of waste generated and the amount being produced each day. “But we have several factories that don't bother to follow these rules and worse they seem to be getting away with it too. There is a need for collective action by all ministries that are involved in waste management to ensure that rules are followed strictly,'' says Mr. Krishna.