India has signed the Basel Convention on 15th March, 1990 . Based on the Basel Convention, The Hazardous Wastes (Management and Handling) Rules, 1989 is framed with the intention of regulating the management and handling of hazardous waste.
But its implementation was very slow, therefore the Supreme Court of India has to intervene in a PIL filed by the Research Foundation for Science Technology National Resource Policy. Various interim orders have been issued from time to time. A time limit was prescribed for implementing the said enactment. Based on the report directions were issued to the Ministry of Environment and Forests to monitor the implementation For monitoring the implementation the High Powered Committee was set up to oversee that the directions of the SC are implemented timely/span. The said Committee was also empowered to co-opt a representative of the State Government or State Pollution Control Boards or any other person or authority as the Committee may deem fit and proper.
In compliance with the Supreme Court direction, closure orders were issued to industries on the assumption that there was violation of the conditions contained in the authorization issued in terms of Hazardous Wastes (Management and Handling) Rules, 1989. Kerala HC interfering with the said order has held that if there is any violation the Pollution Control Board should issue draft proposals regarding closure, obtain explanation of the persons concerned, hear them and pass appropriate orders if the necessary protections have not been taken by the factories concerned. But SC has interfered with the matter and directed that no Court or Authority shall take cognizance or entertain any challenge connected with the implementation of the order passed by them
Even before the coming into force of the said rules SC had the occasion to consider the principles and norms for determining liability of large enterprises engaged in the manufacture and sale of hazardous products , the basis on which damages in case of such liability enterprises should be allowed to continue to function in thickly populated areas and if they are permitted so to function, what measures must be taken for the purpose of reducing to a minimum the hazard to the workmen and the community living in the neighborhood. Court had the occasion to consider the in view of the leakage of MIC gas from the Union Carbide Plant in Bhopal. Court has held that chlorine gas is dangerous to the life and health of the community and if it escapes either from the storage tanks either from the storage tanks or from the filled cylinders or from another point in the course of production, it is likely to affect the health and well being of the workmen and the people living in the vicinity . There can be no doubt, particularly having regard to the opinion of various committees that the possibility of hazard or risk to the community is considerably minimised and there is no appreciably risk of danger to the community if the chlorine plant is allowed to be restarted, the court added.
SOME USEFUL LINKS
Hazardous Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 1989 (Full Text)
Supreme Court Monitoring Committee
Central Pollution Control Board
Hazardous Substances Management Division - Central
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