NEW DELHI: Concerned over rise in accidents in chemical installations, union environment ministry has decided to review over two-decade old laws dealing in hazardous chemicals so that effective enforcement of regulations in chemical industry in ensured and chemical accidents are minimised.
The ministry has decided to amend two sets of laws that regulate the manufacturing, use and handling of hazardous chemicals. These include – Manufacture, Storage and Import of Hazardous, Chemical (MSIHC) Rules, 1986 and Chemical Accidents (Emergency Planning, Preparedness and Response), (CAEPPR) Rules, 1996.
The need was felt as according to ministry, a number of accidents in chemical industry installations in the recent past have brought into focus the need to review the missing gaps in aforesaid rules so that effective enforcement of regulations in chemical industry in ensured.
“There is an urgent need for amendment of the aforesaid rules in line with the existing needs for minimization or control of chemical accidents,” it further said.
The ministry has now sought inputs from all concerned stakeholders and common public for reviewing the laws.
India has witnessed the world’s worst chemical disaster Bhopal Gas Tragedy in the year 1984. It was the most devastating chemical accident in history, where over thousands of people died due to accidental release of toxic gas Methyl Iso Cyanate (MIC).
The numbers have been rising since then.
Around 1500 fatal and non-fatal injuries in chemical factories, including pharmaceuticals companies, were reported in 2014, according to Minister of Labour and Employment Bandaru Dattatreya. The National Disaster Management Authority says that 130 significant chemical accidents were reported in India in last one decade, which resulted into 259 deaths and 563 number of major injured.
The environment ministry is the nodal ministry for chemical (industrial) accidents and its task to implement the two laws. MSIHC prevents major chemical accidents arising from industrial activities and limit the effects of chemical (industrial) accidents and CAEPPR Rules, 1996 provides the statutory backup for Crisis Management setup.
These Rules prescribe criteria for identification of Major Accident Hazard (MAH) installations and all districts with such installations are required to establish crisis management groups.
In addition, as prescribed by the MSIHC Rules, 1989, the occupiers of the Major Accidents Hazard (MAH) Unit are responsible for preparation of an on-site Emergency Plan: and the Chief Inspector of Factories in consultation with District authorities are required to prepare off-site emergency plans as well.