Civil society consultation by Paryavaran Mitra and Nature Code on amending draft waste management rules

reuseBy Mahesh Pandya* and Falguni Joshi**

The Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC), Government of India, published draft waste management rules on its website and invited suggestions. In this context, Paryavaran Mitra and Nature Code organized a civil society consultation at Ahmedabad on May 16, 2015. Twenty nine experts from different sectors participated in the discussion and concluded it with notable suggestions for each rules separately. Researchers, environment consultants, academicians, environment activists, and a representative of the Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) participated in this consultation and contributed in the framing of common suggestions.

Following are the suggestions forwarded to the Secretary, MoEFCC: 

Draft Solid Waste Management 2015:

  • Draft Rules page no. 2 –(xv): Domestic hazardous waste: Include following items in the list – broken glass and ceramic items, shaving blades and other sharp edged metal pieces, nails etc.
  • Page 5 –Chapter 1 (4): Duties of waste generator – (a) Instead of three separate streams, there must be four separate streams, the fourth one for sanitary waste. Like sanitary pads, diapers are also unclean and need safe disposal.  (b) Asking people to wrap securely has no sense. It won’t work. The product manufacturers must provide biodegradable bags with string to put the used sanitary waste for safe disposal.
  • Page 10 (l): Transportation of non-biodegradable (dry waste), including wrapped sanitary waste, needs following changes – transport non-bio-degradable waste (dry waste) and duly packed sanitary waste keeping them separate to their respective processing facilities.
  • Page 11: This is most important to safe guard interests of waste pickers –(zc) “also ensure that all these workers get all medical treatment by facility operator either through comprehensive medical insurance or from their cost. In case of permanent health damage, the worker should get adequate compensation equal to 10 years of salary for the survival of the worker and his/her family.”Following condition needs to be added (ix): Treat waste collectors with respect as they do important service to the society.
  • Page 13: Storage of segregated solid waste at source {1} (vii) – Add used needles and syringes and health care waste, broken glass and ceramic materials, nails, shaving blades and sharp edged metal pieces.
  • Page – 14- {1} (c) Add asunder – Treat with respect waste collectors keeping in mind that their service is extremely important to the society.

Draft Plastic Waste Management Rules 2015:

  • Rule 3: “Street vendor” must be defined as included in SWM draft rules
  • Waste pickers – Avoid the words “engaged voluntarily.” Must be defined in SWM draft rules.
  • Rule 4: (f) & (i) of rule 4 may be clubbed.
  • Rule 5: Encourage entrepreneur to prepare recycled useful materials from such plastic wastes which is not valued by common recyclers. Ensure to make it tax free the sale such articles and items, too. Plastwood exports its machines, has earned over six awards. Open new direction of recycle and reduction of plastic wastes as part of government.
  • Rule 6: Delete the word “open” as burning of plastic wastes anywhere itself is harmful.
  • Rule 7: To obtain desire results from Gram Panchayas, word ‘Gram Panchayat’ may be substituted with either DDO or TDO (District Development Officer/ Taluka Development Officer). Add provision of User Fee for Gram Panchayats, as bylaws for municipalities and gram panchayats are different.
  • Rule 11: Mention the authority to oversee Marking or Labeling.
  • Rule 15: Sub-rule (2) & (3) must be deleted. This would be unpractical to check. And financial matters shall attract avoidable manpower, checks and counterchecks. The rule is ambiguous. Instead, the MoEFCC by notification should stop levying water cess from all the local bodies in nation. Let the huge amount collected be used by each local body for SWM and plastic waste task.
  • Rule 16: This rule is copy of the previous rules. As such, nothing it does not help. Include a condition to constitute committee within a time frame. It must review things a fortnightly basis till the overall system is well placed.
  • Rule 17: Let there be minimum governance. Demanding academic information through Rules may be avoided. Authorities are already empowered to call for information under EPA.

Draft E-Waste Rules 2015:

  • Although the proposed title indicates a holistic legal regulation and management,  the proposed rule does not match the title and the objective, as it merely suggests the regulation aspect and prohibition issues, and it fails to create a holistic legal instrument taking care all the legal, environmental marketing and financial and health aspects. The rule should instead be titled as “E-waste Regulation/ Prohibition Rules, 2015” and not “E-waste Management Rules, 2015”.
  • The objective of the present rules is to substitute the earlier rules of 2011. The present rules have been made more compact, but have failed to introduce substantial changes.
  • The “Schedule I” has been shorted by excluding many of the items in comparison to the 2011 rules, and thus the scope of the Act has been reduced and compromised.
  •  In comparison to SWM & BMW rules, this rules looks to be not very exhaustive as it fails to incorporate the violations issues and their legal consequences.
  • Chapter V of the rule “Reduction of Hazardous Substances” seems to be a welcome change on the first glance; however, the monitoring provision suggested in the rules looks to be insufficient, especially where it proposes that the CPCB would monitor by going for random sampling or else by way of voluntary discloser by the manufacturer or producer, which again leaves lot of scope for doubts with regard to its strict and adequate compliance.
  • Chapter II rule 4(1)g talks about the “Create Awareness by Producers”, which needs to be clearer with specifications about the modes by which awareness can be created. It must be obligatory, in tune with existing Consumer Rights and the Information and Right provisions.
  • In Chapter VI Miscellaneous rule 19 “Transport of E-waste”: Rules also need to be more streamlined, especially where there a need for a more systematic approach towards “Cradle to grave” safe production, utilization and safe disposal. The entire supply chain needs to be overhauled on lines of the BMW rules.
  • Lastly, at many places rules just seem to be in the form of prescriptions, which have been narrated in the form of a directory. Words used are “Shall” and “Should” and not “Mandatory”, “Must” and “Compulsorily”. This would make the rules and their implementation ineffective and legal regulation toothless piece.

Draft BMW Rules 2015: 

  • Draft rule 7, Treatment and Disposal: Para (4) onsite treatment by occupiers – it reads: Every occupier, shall either set up his own requisite bio-medical waste treatment equipments like autoclave or microwave, shredder for treatment of bio-medical waste generated in his premises as a part of on-site treatment, prior to commencement of its operation or ensure requisite treatment of bio-medical waste through an authorised common bio-medical waste treatment facility or any other authorised bio-medical waste treatment facility.” Our suggestion is to remove this clause.

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