NGOs flay India's stand at UN conference on hazardous waste

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New Delhi, Jun 29 (UNI) Environmental organisations like Basel Action Network, Ban Asbestos Network of India, Platform on Shipbreaking have criticised the India for refusing to ratify the Basel Ban Amendment aimed at barring the transboundary trade in in toxic waste.

The UN Conference on Hazardous Wastes Movement from Developed countries to Developing countries held at Bali failed to prohibit trade in toxic wastes because of the stand taken by US, India, Japan and Canada over concerns that would stifle recycling industries, reports from Bali said.

Representatives from 170 countries discussed linkages between human health and waste management to fight the illegal transboundary movement of hazardous waste and promote the safe and environmentally sound management of waste within each country.

A declaration issued at the end of the conference on Friday said, 'We are fully aware that wastes, if not managed in a safe and environmentally sound manner, may have serious consequences for the environment, human health and sustainable livelihood'.

The declaration said, 'Therefore we reaffirm our commitment to prevent illegal transboundary movement of hazardous wastes, to minimize the generation of, and to promote the safe and environmentally sound management of wastes within each country.' Most of the delegates from the developing world except some like India wanted the Basel Convention to put complete export ban on hazardous wastes. African countries argued it was the best way to protect their citizens. The European Union also supported the ban.

However, the NGOs said, India told the conference that it supports "free movement of recyclable scrap metal" and agreed with Japan's position on hazardous waste trade.

The proposed ban was aimed at strengthening the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal.

UN's Basel Convention on the control of transboundary hazardous waste and its disposal, adopted in 1989, currently has 170 member parties. The Convention entered into force in 1992 that stopped short of banning toxic trade.

Ban Amendment to the Basel Convention adopted in 1995 requires the export and import of all hazardous waste to be banned to protect human health and the environment against their adverse effects.

The Basel Convention article requires three-fourths of members to ratify the convention in order to enforce the amendment. So far, only 63 countries have ratified the ban amendment. The 1989 pact allows its 170 members to ban imports and requires exporters to gain consent before sending toxic materials abroad.

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