Environment Ministry Drafts New Waste Laws

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The Environment Ministry has , released six new draft legislations to handle the different kinds of waste being generated in India. With exception to bio-medical waste, the country so far, has little or no law for the handling of waste. “We are doing our bit to make our country pollution-free,” said Prakash Javadekar, Union Minister, Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MOEFCC). The draft laws proposed by the Ministry cover management of solid waste, plastic waste, construction and demolition waste, bio-medical waste, e-waste and fly ash.

The previous Solid Waste Management rules (2000), were applicable only in municipal areas. The scope has now been extended to 7935 towns and also to outgrowths in urban areas as identified by the 2011 Census. The Ministry will perform the task of enforcement under the new draft law. The proposed law also requires waste generators to segregate waste at source to Wet and Dry household waste

Rapid urbanization leads to massive generation of debris, concrete and steel all of which classify as Construction and Demolition Waste. The new draft law for the management of such waste directs generators to ensure separate storage and handover. “This is the first time that a law has been proposed for the proper handling of Construction and Demolition waste,” said Javadekar.

Plastic waste which the country sits on is also addressed by the new draft law. “India sits on over 20 lakh tonne of plastic each year, something that needed attention,” said the Union Minister addressing the media.

For e-waste, the Ministry has proposed simplification in registration and authorization for those who would collect such waste. Accordingly both will be included in one document. The draft also proposes that government procurement be done only from companies that have complied with e-waste rules.

“Bio medical waste management will now be extended to pathological labs also,” said the Minister. Hazardous bio-medical waste will have to be managed by All Health Care Facilities (HCFs) regardless of the amount of bio-medical waste generated or the number of patients it receives. Unlike the existing rules drafted in 1998, the new draft acknowledges the safety of the worker handling bio-medical waste. It proposes “precautionary principles” for their safety, states the release by the Ministry.

The use of fly-ash (a residue generated during combustion of coal) is also being promoted. Existing law mandates that use of fly ash be made compulsory for infrastructure within 100 kilometers of a coal or lignite-based thermal plant. “Now, the draft law extends the mandate to 500 kilometers,” informed Javadekar.

The draft laws are open for public consultations and suggestions up to the 31 of July on the website of the Environment Ministry

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