Thursday, October 13, 2011


India is the most sought after destination for global waste export!

The developed world is always on look out for a dustbin wherein they can accommodate all the ‘trash’ they produce. A few years back, most of the garbage produced by the West was dumped in Africa. For instance, 400 tonnes of toxic waste dumped in Ivory Coast in 2007 which took lives of 17 people and more than 40,000 people developed various diseases. With time, the amount of trash produced saw an exponential rise and these nations had to look out for an alternative. Out of all the nations, the one that happily welcomed this garbage was India. Today India is pegged as the world's biggest trash bin.

Since decades, Indian market is being used as a dumping ground for the left over and obsolete electronic stock from the European and American markets. As per the report titled "Take Back Blues – An assessment of e-waste take back in India" by Greenpeace India, the country produced 380,000 tonnes of e-waste from discarded computers, televisions and mobile phones in 2007. The report further projected that e-waste will reach to 800,000 tonnes per annum by 2012 with a growth rate of 15 per cent. Besides, the electronic waste, our ports have gradually turned into a wreckage dump yard. In October 2010, wreckage of more than 11 ships were found rotting (since decades) at Mumbai Port. It was in June 2011 that a concern was raised about Probo Koala (a port near Gujarat) which is today meta phorsed as the Ivory Coast of India.

Economically, it makes more sense for the developed nations to export their toxic wastes to countries like ours than to recycle the waste and re-use the same. Recycling a ton of waste costs up to 148 pounds in the UK while, it merely cost them 40 pounds to ship the same to India. Who can forget the seized containers at Thoothukudi (Tuticorin) port in 2008 that had 900 tonnes of hazardous medical waste (coming from the US) including surgical gloves, syringes, condoms and oil cans which was later found to be medically hazardous. Behind the veil of ‘go green and improve the environment’ campaign, the UK Council is exporting its garbage to India by way of waste black market. The garbage includes everything from cartons, newspapers, crisp packets to plastic bags. A few years ago about 180 tonnes of the US waste was dumped in areas adjoining Coimbatore and an additional 1,000 tonnes is still rotting in Tuticorin port. It included everything from the debris of the World Trade Center (WTC) to the titanium wastes of the nuclear reactors. Not just UK and US, but even Japan exports around 300 tonnes of toxic wastes including prohibited materials like zinc ash, lead acid battery wastes, poisonous PVC, around 500 tonnes of DDT and 20 tonnes of capacitor fluid containing banned chemicals. Shockingly, almost 105 countries dump their various kinds of refuse and rubbish in India.

The moot point India's inadequate laws blindly allow such imports. What we need to comprehend is the opportunity and economic loss we face due to such imports. The state authorities should criminalise such offence and keep a tight check on the imports. We are already struggling with domestically produced waste and spend around Rs.3,000 crore annually on disposal of garbage. India is still to endorse the Basel Convention – which gives these developed countries a leeway in exporting their garbage. Thus, before these toxic wastes enter our living room, our environmental ministry needs to take strong steps to stop the same.


1 comment:

  1. Contrary to what you have written in your blog, Zinc Ash is not prohibited in India but it has to be with in the limits prescribed by the CPCB (<60% ZnO content).
    Also import of Zinc Ash is essential to produce Zinc Sulphate which is used in the agricultural & related activities.