Disposal of Toxic waste and Chemicals in India

Updated: Apr 9, 2019

A major issue whose critical nature is highly underestimated by the Government and people of India is hazardous waste disposal. Hazardous waste is highly dangerous because of its direct detrimental effects on human and environmental health.

The following is an outline of the status of hazardous waste disposal in India:

  1. The Indian chemical industry, the 4th largest industry in India, is a prime contributor. Around 43,936 industries in India generate over 70 lakh tonnes of hazardous waste annually, and hazardous waste generation in India is rising at a rate of 2–5% per year.

  2. To make matters worse, industries in developed countries export hazardous waste to India, owing to cheap disposal, weak pollution control laws, and neglectful enforcement in the country.

  3. India has allowed hazardous toxic waste trade as a means to boost the national economy.

  4. However, India lacks proper infrastructure for the scientific disposal and recycling of hazardous waste. Hazardous waste is dumped in general landfills and not specialized landfills. Burning of hazardous waste at landfills is still one of the most common of disposal, causing immense harm to human and environmental health. Absence of incineration infrastructure in India is also a major contributor. Additionally, waste collectors collecting hazardous waste are mostly ill-equipped, untrained and poorly paid.

In an attempt to combat hazardous waste pollution, in April 1996, the Delhi High Court banned the import of toxic wastes into India, and again, in May 1997, the Supreme Court ordered ban on the import of toxic waste. Furthermore, the Indian Government introduced the Hazardous Waste Management Rules in 2016, which has set guidelines to ensure prevention, minimization, recycling and safe disposal of hazardous waste

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