POPs goes the government

POPs goes the government while the world celebrated the coming into force of the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (pops) on May 17, 2004, India witnessed a strong protest against it. The Indian Chemical Manufacturers Association (icma), a major stakeholder in the convention, boycotted an important workshop on pops organised on the same day by the Union ministry of environment and forest (moef) and the Confederation of Indian Industry (cii). It also threatened to boycott the moef's nine upcoming meetings on these pollutants. This boycott has placed the Union government is a tight spot as it is constantly harangued by green groups to ratify the convention.

The Stockholm convention aims at phasing out 12 dangerous pesticides and industrial pollutants, commonly known as pops or the dirty dozen. More than 150 countries have signed it and about 60 have ratified it. The treaty will convene its first conference of parties in May 2005. While India has banned most pops, ddt is still used and dioxins and furans are produced as by-products by many industries.

"We have our own reservations to the Stockholm convention. Despite repeated communications, the government has not responded to the issues we raised. It has failed to give us any assurance. I have personally written to the moef, cii and the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation, but have not got any response from them,' alleges S Ganesan, co-chairperson of icma's expert committee on international treaties.

The chemicals industry's protest has added to the moef's woes. "While non

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