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REGULATORY UPDATE - No.

1 : 2004 ©

Envirotrends ™

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SUPREME COURT ORDER ON HAZARDOUS WASTES MANAGEMENT

The Honourable Supreme Court (SC) in Writ Petition (Civil) No 657 of 1995 (Research Foundation
for Science Technology National Resources Policy Vs Union of India and others), has given an
Order on 14th October 2003, related to Hazardous Wastes Management in the country. The Order
is based on the recommendations of a High Powered Committee (HPC)1 headed by Professor
MGK Menon and comprising of experts from different disciplines and fields2. In the order, the SC
has asked the Central Government and the Ministry of Environment & Forests (MoE&F) to
consider strengthening of its Hazardous Substances Management Division3. The SC has also
observed that Right to Information and Community Participation, necessary for protection of
environment and human health, is an inalienable part of Article 21 and is governed by the
accepted environment principles4. Therefore the Government and other concerned authorities
shall formulate necessary programmes to motivate the public participation. The Court has
constituted a Monitoring Committee and ordered that this Committee shall oversee that the court
directives are implemented timely and quarterly reports shall be filed. The Committee would also
oversee that the aspects to which the MoE&F has agreed are implemented in letter and spirit and
without any laxity or delay in the matter. The Court also issued certain detailed directions
regarding characterisation of hazardous wastes, their identification, restrictions on their import,
import of sludge oil, illegal hazardous waste dump sites and ship breaking.

We have categorised the specific directives, issued through the Order, as follows:

National Policy on Hazardous Wastes Management

1. The MoE&F has been directed to draft a Policy Document on Hazardous Wastes Generation and its
Handling within the Country, either itself, or through the Central Pollution Control Board
(CPCB) or any other Agency. The Policy document shall enunciate a doctrine of partnership
between State Pollution Control Boards (SPCBs), entrepreneurs, and other stakeholders like
the community and will involve working together on monitoring, preventing and reducing
hazardous wastes generation. The MoE&F has been given a timeframe of 9 months.

1 The HPC was constituted by SC Order dated 13th October 1997. The committee was required to give its report and recommendations
regarding 14 Terms of Reference related to Hazardous Wastes Management.
2 As per this report, about 80% of country’s hazardous wastes are generated in the States of Maharashtra, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu and

Andhra Pradesh.
3 The Hazardous Substances Management Division (HSMD) of MoE&F deals with the management of hazardous wastes (both

indigenous and imported), hazardous chemicals, major chemical accidents, municipal solid waste, biomedical waste and liability and
compensation connected with chemical accidents. The HSMD is also the focal point for international agreements, namely, the Basel
Convention on the Trans-boundary Movement of Hazardous Wastes and its disposal; the Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs)
(being negotiated); and Prior Informed Consent (PIC) procedures. The overall implementation of the Hazardous Wastes Management Rules
1989, as amended through 6th January 2000 and 20th May 2003, along with various regulations enacted on the above subjects all over the
country lies with this division.
4 Section 3(2) (12) of the Environment Protection Act, 1986 stipulates collection and dissemination of information in respect of matters

relating to environment pollution. Principle 10 of Rio Declaration recognises the right to receive information and community
participation with particular emphasis on hazardous materials.
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2. The SPCBs have been directed To Prepare Toxic Inventory Regarding Generation of Hazardous
Wastes in their Respective States and to submit it to CPCB for verification5. The SPCBs are given
3 months to collect this information and to provide it to the CPCB. The CPCB is given 4
months for verification and to file this information with SC in 5 months who would then pass
the order for its conversion into National Toxic Inventory. The National Toxic Inventory would be
published in 7 months.

3. The MoE&F should consider the suggestion of HPC regarding development of National Policy
for Landfill Sites. HPC has suggested that the location of final disposal facilities should be
based on the total quantity of hazardous wastes generated in the individual states. For
effective monitoring and an economically viable facility, it is important to locate a centralised
facility within a distance of about 100-km of the waste generating units. Those States which
generate less than 20,000 tonnes per year of hazardous wastes may be permitted to have only
temporary storage facilities and then transfer the waste to the final treatment and disposal
facilities in the nearby states. It is not necessary and also not advisable to develop a facility in each
and every district and/or state, as land is a valuable natural resource. The MoE&F has been given a
timeframe of 4 months.

4. The MoE&F and CPCB have been asked to take up an extensive Awareness Generation
campaign on hazardous wastes. The CPCB and MoE&F are given a time frame of 8 weeks.

Hazardous Wastes Disposal Sites

5. The SC has directed the CPCB to issue guidelines to be followed by all concerned including
the SPCBs and operators of disposal sites for ensuring proper functioning and upkeep of the
said sites. The CPCB is given a time frame of 3 months for taking action on this matter.

6. The SPCBs have been directed To Prepare an Inventory of Hazardous Waste Dump Sites in their
respective states and to submit it to CPCB for verification. The CPCB is given 4 months to file
this information with the SC who would then pass the order for the same being treated as
Authenticated National Inventory on Hazardous Waste Dumpsites. The National Inventory on
Hazardous Waste Dumpsites would be published in 7 months.

7. The SC has directed SPCBs To Produce a Comprehensive Report on Illegal Hazardous Waste Dump
sites in their jurisdiction. The reports shall be based on inspection, assessment of the size of the
dump site; age; whether the dump site is passive or active; and whether any precautions have
been taken to prevent damage to the environment. The SPCB will also take samples of
groundwater in the vicinity of dumpsite at different points and prepare a report on
contamination of the groundwater, if any, and if so, to what extent. The CPCB will collate this
data from the SPCBs (directly from each SPCB) and will randomly cross-check the data upto
10% of the units prior to preparing the listing of illegal hazardous waste dumpsites in the
country.

8. The SPCBs are also directed to draw up a plan with financial estimates for immediate
measures that may be required to stop environmental damage from illegal hazardous wastes
dump sites. A Full-scale Rehabilitation Plan including Detailed Cost Estimates and Time Frame for
Implementation shall be Developed and reports sent to the CPCB. The SPCBs/Pollution Control
Committees (PCCs) are given a time frame of 3 months. The CPCB has been directed to study

5The CPCB will collate the data from the SPCBs (directly from each SPCB) and will randomly cross-check the data upto 10% of the
units prior to preparing the National Inventory. In this report, the CPCB will also discuss any problems in the making of the inventory
and particulars/details of any SPCB that hasn’t cooperated with the Inventory.
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REGULATORY UPDATE - No.1 : 2004 ©

the SPCB reports, make an evaluation of the proposals, countercheck the data generated in the
reports, and produce a National Plan for Rehabilitation of Hazardous Waste Dump Sites. The
CPCB is given a time frame of 4 months. The Inventory and Rehabilitation Plan are to be
submitted to the SC within 5 months.

Hazardous Wastes Management by Industrial Facilities

9. The SC has directed that the facilities operating without any Authorization or in violation of
conditions of operation issued under the Hazardous Wastes Management Rules, 1989 as amended
through 6th January 2000 and 20th May 2003 (HWM Rules), shall be closed down by the
concerned authorities. The SPCBs/PCCs are given a time frame of 3 weeks to take action on
this matter.

10. The HPC had recommended, “the concerned SPCB shall evolve a mechanism or checklist to ensure
that an Authorization to any unit generating or handling hazardous wastes is granted only where it is
justified by the availability of adequate treatment and disposal facilities and of adequately trained
manpower. The Authorization should be renewed only when, additionally –

(a) The conditions prescribed by the SPCB have been duly observed by the occupier;
(b) Proper measures for protection of health of workers have been taken;
(c) A sound record of compliance with regulatory requirements imposed earlier has been
maintained.
(d) The SPCBs have to ensure that any hazardous waste previously dumped by a unit be cleared
before Authorization is issued or renewed to a unit. Citizens may be consulted by Public Notice
in this respect.

The SC has directed that in order to achieve the above objective, the CPCB shall issue requisite
checklist to SPCBs and ensure its compliance. The CPCB has been given a time frame of 3
months for taking action on this matter.

11. The Court has directed the SPCBs/PCCs to take steps to ensure that relevant information on
Hazardous Wastes should be displayed on notice boards and newspapers and communicated
through radio, television and the Internet. The SPCBs/PCCs are given a time frame of 4
weeks for taking action on this matter. Thus, some of the SPCBs (like the Uttar Pradesh
Pollution Control Board (UPPCB)) have directed all facilities6 in their jurisdiction to
immediately comply with the following stipulations:

(a) All facilities involved in the handling of hazardous chemicals and generating hazardous
wastes will ensure to display on-line data outside the main factory gate with regard to
quantity and nature of hazardous chemicals being handled in the plant, including waste
water and air emissions and solid hazardous wastes generated within factory premises7. If
such data is not displayed, the appropriate legal action including closure might be initiated.

(b) All facilities generating hazardous wastes shall send details of the specific locations and
permissions obtained, if any, for dumping sites being used by them.

6 All hazardous wastes generating industries covered in Schedule 1 and Schedule 2 of the HWM Rules 1989, as amended through 6th January
2000 and 20th May 2003.
7 The Order says that the pattern followed by the Andhra Pradesh Pollution Control Board (APPCB) should be complied with. The

APPCB has directed that all industrial facilities shall put up two sign boards 6 ft x 4 ft each at publicly visible place at the main gate;
the first providing the information regarding the facility specific Consent to Establish and Consent to Operate Conditions and the second
providing information of release of pollutants-air emissions, water discharges, and solid wastes.
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(c) All facilities transporting hazardous wastes shall do so in accordance with the guidelines
for transportation of hazardous wastes as per Rule 7 of the HWM Rules. The guidelines are
provided in CPCB’s Document# HAZWAMS/23/2003. The CPCB is given a time frame of
3 weeks.

(d) In respect of design and setting up of disposal facilities as provided in Rule 8-A of the
HWM Rules, the Criteria for Hazardous Waste Land-fill Sites published by CPCB in February
2001, and the Manual for Design, Construction and Quality Control of Liners and Covers for
Hazardous Waste Landfills published in December 2002, shall be followed and adhered to8.

(e) It shall be ensured that hazardous wastes are not discharged without a proper
Authorization and in no case in open dumps or in illegal dumping sites and on violation
thereof, prompt action be taken as per law.

In addition to above, all the facilities have been directed to ensure compliance with other
provisions of the HWM Rules and the Manufacture, Storage and Import of Hazardous Chemicals
Rules, 1989 (as amended through 19th January 2000), failing which the facility will be liable for
legal action under the provisions of the above Rules as read in conjunction with the
Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, as amended through 23rd April 2003.

Recycling and Re-refining of Hazardous Wastes

12. On the aspect of Environmentally Sound Technologies and Standards for Recycling and Re-refining
(incorporated in Rule-21 of HWM Amendment Rules, 2003), the SC had a view that the purpose
would be better served if the CPCB, from time to time, issues directions to SPCBs and all
PCCs, bringing to their notice the latest technologies and requiring them to ensure compliance
thereof by the concerned units within the fixed time frame. The CPCB has been directed to
comply and the timeline set for this item is 3 months.

13. In respect of Collection and Transportation of Used Oil from different sources, authorities have
been asked to ensure that the same are sold to Registered Refiners or Recyclers and they give
an undertaking to refine or recycle in terms of the Rules. The MoE&F/CPCB are given a time
frame of 4 weeks for taking action on this matter.

Import & Export of Hazardous Wastes

14. The Basel Convention has banned import of 76 items whereas under Schedule-8 of the HWM
Rules, import of only 29 items is prohibited. The SC has asked MoE&F to review List “A” of
Schedule VIII items in Basel Convention (other than the 29 already banned items) and issue
necessary notifications. The MoE&F is given a time frame of 4 months.

15. The MoE&F has been asked to review import of waste materials like used edible oil, cow
dung, plastic scrap, used Poly-Vinyl Chloride (PVC) in any form, Poly-Ethylene Terephthalate
(PET) bottles, etc. which are required to be banned9. The MoE&F is given a time frame of 4
months.

16. The MoE&F has been asked to consider making a provision for Bank Guarantee being given
by importer while seeking permission to Import Used Oil, Furnace Oil and Zinc Wastes to be

8 As per Mr M Subba Rao’s Affidavit filed on 13th September 2003, 89 landfill sites were identified of which 30 sites were notified. Out

of 30, 11 common landfills are ready and operational-2 in Maharashtra, 1 in Andhra Pradesh and 8 in Gujarat and that some of these
landfills are in accordance with the aforesaid Criteria and Manual.
9 Though these are not covered under the Basel Convention, these wastes are noted to have hazardous impact as per the HPC report.

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REGULATORY UPDATE - No.1 : 2004 ©

released only on the imported consignment being found to be in conformity with the declared
item of import.

17. The HPC has recommended that in order to deter any transboundary movement of hazardous
wastes or other wastes ie illegal traffic, the National/Domestic legislation shall be
enacted/amended appropriately to prevent and punish illegal traffic. The Government has
been directed by the SC to examine this aspect and file a report.

Other Directives/Requirements

18. The SC has noted the urgent need to develop the design criteria for incinerators10 to safeguard
the environment so as to have proper and efficient working of incinerators close to the place
of generation of hazardous waste. The MoE&F/CPCB are given a time frame of 8 weeks for
taking action on this matter.

19. As regards the Ship Breaking activities, the SC has accepted some recommendations of HPC,
and has given directions accordingly. The MoE&F, State Maritime Boards and SPCBs have
been given a time frame of 1 month.

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91-11-2627 1433 OR 91-11-2627 7133 OR indusenviro@vsnl.net

10 Incineration is the most important treatment method for the destruction of all high-calorific and highly toxic wastes. High
o
temperature incineration at about 1,200 C mineralises (breaks down into basis non-toxic components) all kinds of organic matter.
Destruction efficiencies of effectively 99.99% of toxic compounds with no generation of POPs can be ensured with proper designing of the
disposal systems including its residence time, temperature and turbulence. The HPC report says that most of the incinerators are mere
o
combustion chambers or industrial boilers where the maximum temperature is around 500-550 C which is much too low. Often they are
not equipped with adequate air pollution control devices and all kinds of wastes including non-chlorinated and chlorinated hydrocarbons
are burnt in these so-called incinerators thereby generating toxic gases rather than destroying the hazardous constituents.
INDUS ENVIRONMENTAL SERVICES 5 JANUARY 2004