Author: Rukmini Ravi Madhok, B.A.,LL.B. from SLS, Hyderabad
The Bhopal gas tragedy took place on 9th December 1984. It was for the first time a chemical disaster on such a large scale had taken place in the country. The tragedy left a lot of long-term local effects on the people of the region. Many gas leaks and chemicals seeped into the local purifiers and hence managed to dangerously affect people for a very long time. One of the United Nations sustainable goals is to handle chemical wastes more efficiently and to prevent any public damage.
The Indian government and international organizations have discussed frequently industrial waste and their proper disposal. So, what are chemically hazardous wastes? They are any type of residue which might damage humans or other types of life or affect the environment negatively.
There are various types of wastes as are known today. The means to handle these wastes is different for each one of them. It is extremely important to educate the general public about all of these. Harmful substances range from flammable liquids and solids, injections, corrosive substances, oxidizing substances, etc.
India ranks 177 out of 180 in the environmental performance index. This statistic is extremely disgraceful to not only our country but also its mindset. Most of our problems stem from our mishandling of substances and harmful wastes. The need to improvise on the handling of chemical wastes is an especially crucial need to the hour. The effects of chemical wastes can be extremely harmful to humans as well as the environment. Many chemicals enter our body in small quantities and some require a large amount of exposure to affect us. Almost 300 types of manmade chemicals can be found in an average human. Hazardous chemical exposure can have adverse reactions to newborns to the elderly, even fetuses. But the effect on each person varies. The common effects to all age groups range from physical deformities to cancer and even mental alterations.
While large scale spills and leaks are the cause of massive chemical waste mishandling, however, many small scale and daily exposure also lead to a lot of damage in the human body as well as the environment. Delhi pollution is one example that is extremely close to home. The pollution levels in Delhi are responsible for making someone’s lungs as bad as a daily smoker, if not more.
Hazardous waste can be sourced from both industrial and household sites. These are mostly those which are classified as hazardous in federal regulations. However, if mishandled any type of waste can end up being hazardous.
Many international conventions have been written out regarding the issue of efficient management of chemical and hazardous waste. The most important one of them is the Basel Convention. The Basel Convention on control of transboundary movements of hazardous wastes and their disposal was adopted in 1989 and it came into force in 1992. It is one of the most elaborate and comprehensive global agreements on environmental wastes and hazardous substances .
The responsibility for managing falls on not only the public but also on the state government. Proper public provisions need to be made for proper waste disposal and these provisions need to be made known to the general public. Proper jobs and provisions need to be made in the state government agenda and must be duly implemented. These provisions must be followed. These laws must be followed and citizens are fined in the situation of violation of the same. It is also important for children to be made sensitized on the issue of the environment. This is one sole issue which faces almost no opposition, everyone agrees with the fact that necessary steps need to be taken for the environment. Therefore, we need to implement and not just make this issue.
However, every problem comes with a way to solve it. A major shift in mentality and mindset is required for people to understand that simple kitchen and household waste can pile up into a global problem. A shift in the attitude in the way society looks upon waste cleaning jobs is required. A group or community who work towards cleaning the environment is more valuable and respectable than any other corporate job. Most of all a call to IT industries companies is required. It needs to be understood that before we reach for water on the moon, we must keep the water on earth clean.
Effects of Hazardous Wastes on Human Health and the Environment, MLI environment https://mlienvironmental.com/blog/effects-of-hazardous-waste/
 Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes, UN environment programme. https://www.unenvironment.org/resources/report/basel-convention-control-transboundary-movements-hazardous-wastes