More than 32 to 40 containers carrying hazardous waste enter Indian ports each year due to lack of regulatory mechanisms, a senior customs official said here.
Speaking to Express on the sidelines of National Conclave on Shipping 2012 here on Monday, Additional Commissioner of Customs N J Kumaresh said that India is being used as a dump yard due to lack of regulatory mechanisms to contain hazardous consignment which are imported into the country under fictitious importers.
“When these consignments are caught, the fictitious importers abandon the cargo and the shipping lines shirk off the responsibility,” he said, stressing the need for a framework to make the shipping lines responsible to carry the waste back to the country of origin.
India is a signatory of Basel Convention, which prohibits developed countries to dump waste in developing countries. Interestingly, the country also has The Hazardous Wastes (Management,Handling and Transboundary Movement) Rules, 2008 to implement the Basel Convention but there is a need for a regulatory framework on fixing the responsibility on who is to be hold responsible for importing the waste into India, the official said.
The Department of Revenue Intelligence has booked several cases after confiscating containers carrying hazardous wastes, like municipal waste, medical waste, waste oil and scrap. “But no action could be taken as concerned officials have no idea as to who will pay the dues,” Kumaresh said.
Interestingly, many countries are using small islands across the Indian Ocean to crush the car waste before importing it as scrap. In western countries, such wastes are segregated and the polluter has to pay an exorbitant fee. “This has forced the firms to look for cheaper sites to evade the charges,” he said.
The Union Shipping Minister G K Vasan told the Express that ports have been advised to take stringent action against those dumping hazardous waste. “Ministry of Environment and Forest is responsible for it,” said the minister.Chennai Port trust chairman Atulya Mishra said once in a while the port comes across such cargos and it is trying to curb such practices.
However, Kumaresh said that unless the concerned ministries comes up with regulations, the wastes will continue to be dumped.