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2 NGOs ask govt to check shipments of plastic waste

New Delhi: Two leading NGOs-Toxics Link and Basel Action Network-have alerted the government about some shipments of suspected banned hazardous plastic waste currently on their way from the US to India, urging the authorities concerned to thoroughly check the material.
In their three letters to the environment ministry in the past over one month, the NGOs said they have been tracking the movement of toxic waste across the globe and specified the vessels that were suspected to be carrying containers of banned toxic plastic waste and even indicated the dates and ports of their arrival along both eastern and western coasts of the country. 
The ministry confirmed receiving those alerts from two organizations and said necessary action is being taken and "the matter is being taken up with enforcement agencies".
Suspecting imports of two of the banned categories of waste under the Basel Convention that calls for environmentally sound disposal of hazardous and other waste, the NGOs in their joint letter to the ministry said, "We hope that these shipments will be met by some by from the environment ministry and customs agency to ensure they are examined to see if they are legal shipments."
Satish Sinha of New Delhi-based Toxics Link and Jim Puckett of Seattle-based Basel Action Network (BAN), in their letters to the ministry, also attached detailed information. They specified the banned waste and sought action.
Asked whether those shipments were checked, the ministry in a written response said, "We have received the above reference. As per the existing policy, only two plastic compounds, Polythene and Polymethyl Methacrylate, are allowed in special economic zones (sez). No permission for any plastic waste has been given to be imported into the Domestic Tariff Area. We are taking necessary action in the above-referred case and the matter is being taken up with enforcement agencies."
In their letters, Sinha and Puckett said they were sending alerts as they believed there was a "high probability" that waste indicated in these inbound shipments was banned. They said they would report on the fate of these shipments at the upcoming 15th Conference of the Parties to the Basel Convention in Geneva during June 6-17.

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