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Biodiversity & Environment

Ratification of 7 Persistent Organic Pollutants

  • 08 Oct 2020
  • 6 min read

Why in News

The Union Cabinet has approved the ratification of seven 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 Ministries of External Affairs (MEA) and Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MEFCC) in respect of POPs for streamlining the procedure.

Key Points

  • Persistent Organic Pollutants: POPs are identified chemical substances that are characterised by:
    • Persistence in the environment.
    • Bio-accumulation in the fatty acids in living organisms.
    • Less soluble in water.
    • Adverse effect on human health/ environment.
      • Exposure to POPs can lead to cancer, damage to central & peripheral nervous systems, diseases of the immune system, reproductive disorders and interference with normal infant and child development.
    • The property of long-range environmental transport (LRET) makes them spread widely in the atmosphere.
  • The Stockholm Convention:
    • It is a global treaty to protect human health and the environment from POPs.
    • It was opened for signature in 2001 in Stockholm (Sweden) and became effective in 2004.
    • POPs are listed in various Annexes to the Stockholm Convention after thorough scientific research, deliberations and negotiations among member countries.
    • Objectives:
      • Support the transition to safer alternatives.
      • Target additional POPs for action.
      • Cleanup old stockpiles and equipment containing POPs.
      • Work together for a POPs-free future.
    • India ratified the Stockholm Convention in 2006 as per Article 25(4), which enabled it to keep itself in a default "opt-out" position such that amendments in various Annexes of the convention cannot be enforced on it unless an instrument of ratification/ acceptance/ approval or accession is explicitly deposited with UN depositary.
    • The convention calls to ban nine of the dirty dozen chemicals (key POPs), limit the use of DDT to malaria control, and curtail inadvertent production of dioxins and furans. The convention listed twelve distinct chemicals in three categories:
      • Eight pesticides (aldrin, chlordane, DDT, dieldrin, endrin, heptachlor, mirex and toxaphene)
      • Two industrial chemicals (poly chlorinated biphenyls and hexachlorobenzene)
      • Two unintended by-products of many industrial processes involving chlorine such as waste incineration, chemical and pesticide manufacturing and pulp and paper bleaching (poly chlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins and dibenzofurans, commonly referred to as dioxins and furans).
  • Recent Cabinet Decision: The Union Cabinet has approved the ratification of seven chemicals listed under Stockholm Convention. These chemicals are regulated under the following domestic provision for POPs:
    • Regulation of Persistent Organic Pollutants Rules:
      • Considering its commitment towards providing a safe environment and addressing human health risks, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) had notified the 'Regulation of Persistent Organic Pollutants Rules, in 2018 under the provisions of Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.
      • The regulation inter alia prohibits the manufacture, trade, use, import and export of seven chemicals, namely:
        • Chlordecone,
        • Hexabromobiphenyl,
        • Hexabromodiphenyl ether and Hepta Bromodiphenyl Ether (Commercial octa-BDE),
        • Tetrabromodiphenyl ether and Pentabromodiphenyl ether (Commercial penta-BDE),
        • Pentachlorobenzene,
        • Hexabromocyclododecane, and
        • Hexachlorobutadiene.
  • Significance of Decision:
    • The Cabinet's approval for ratification of POPs demonstrates India's commitment to meet its international obligations with regard to protection of environment and human health.
    • It also indicates the resolve of the Government to take action on POPs by implementing control measures, develop and implement action plans for unintentionally produced chemicals, develop inventories of the chemicals' stockpiles and review.
    • The ratification process would enable India to access the Global Environment Facility (GEF) financial resources.

Global Environment Facility

Source: PIB

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