No green concern in hazardous waste import: Ramesh

Despite the rule being in place for two years, certain categories of hazardous waste are still either under open general license as per the EXIM policy or the office of the Director General of Foreign Trade is granting their import without checking the rules.

Waste materials
These materials include waste oil, ash and residue from the incineration of municipal solid waste, PET bottles and unsorted waste scrap.
Pointing out to this gap to his cabinet colleague and Commerce Minister Anand Sharma, Union Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh suggested aligning the provisions of EXIM policy and hazardous waste rules to avoid confusion at the implementation level.

Other areas
Violations were found in other areas as well.
Ramesh said some of the export oriented units and firms located special economic zones handling hazardous wastes are operating without the mandatory approval and consent from the Union environment ministry.
As per the rules, units handling hazardous wastes need to obtain “consent to operate” under the Water act, 1974 and Air act, 1981 as well as “authorisation” from the ministry.
But an impression seems to have gained ground that such units are exempt from provisions of environmental regulations and can import hazardous wastes without any permission.

These perceptions needed to be corrected, Ramesh said, suggesting officials from both ministries should sit together to take care of these problems.
Ramesh also sought the intervention of Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee to strengthen the existing inspection and monitoring system at the ports where customs officials are mandated to do screening and take penal action against firms without documentation and verify those papers.

The environment minister suggested setting up of a task force comprising officials from the revenue department (customs), directorate of revenue intelligence and pollution control boards for carrying out random checks at the ports.
He suggested improving the port's screening infrastructure and sensitising the customs authorities on the hazardous waste rules.
DH News Service

Dangerous conditions
* Certain categories of hazardous waste are still under open general license as per EXIM policy
* Some export-oriented units and firms in SEZs handle hazardous waste without mandatory approval from Centre
* Impression is that such units are exempt from obtaining necessary permission
* Environment ministry wants random checks carried out by task force at ports

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