7 October 2020.
Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi has approved the Ratification of seven (7) chemicals listed under Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs). The Cabinet further delegated its powers to ratify chemicals under the Stockholm Convention to Union Ministers of External Affairs (MEA) and Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MEFCC) in respect of POPs already regulated under the domestic regulations thereby streamlining the procedure.
Regulation of Persistent Organic Pollutants Rules, on March 5, 2018 under the provisions of Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 prohibits the manufacture, trade, use, import and export seven chemicals namely :
- Hexabromodiphenyl ether and Heptabromodiphenylether (Commercial octa-BDE),
- Tetrabromodiphenyl ether and Pentabromodiphenyl ether (Commercial penta-BDE),
- Hexachlorobutadiene, which were already listed as POPs under Stockholm Convention.
India has ratified the convention in January 2006. However, India till date stays in an opt-out position following domestic rules on usage of POPs
Opt-Out Position in Stockholm Convention
The convention allows its members to stay in such a position under article 25. According to the article, the amendments made to the convention shall not be enforced by its members unless an instrument of acceptance for ratification or approval is deposited with the United Nations.
The cabinet approval will demonstrate India’s commitment towards international obligation in protecting the environment from POPs. This will in turn allow India to access the Global Environment Facility financial resources by updating National Implementation Plan.
What are persistent organic pollutants?
They are also called forever chemicals. They are resistant to environmental degradation through photolytic, chemical and biological processes. Thus they accumulate in the environment causing adverse impacts on human health. With an intention to eliminate persistent organic pollutants completely from the environment, the Stockholm convention on persistent organic pollutants was held in 2001. India is a signatory of the convention.
The Stockholm convention is a Treaty that was signed to protect environment and humans from persistent organic pollutants. These pollutants accumulate in living organisms affecting their health adversely and are of the nature of quick environmental transport.
The exposure to persistent organic pollutants might lead to cancer, diseases of immune system, damage to Central and peripheral nervous system and interference with infant development.