Quick industrialisation in the last few years has resulted in the exhaustion of natural resources and a rise in pollution in India. In addition, industrialisation has also resulted in vast heaps of hazardous waste posing a threat to the environment and human health. Thus, systematic disposal and scientific treatment of the produced waste are unavoidable. This led to the introduction of effective rules governing the transboundary movement of hazardous waste. These guidelines are stipulated under the Hazardous Wastes(Management, Handling and Transboundary Movement) (HWM) Rules drafted by MoEF&CC (Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change).
Overview of the HWM Rules for governing transboundary movement of hazardous waste
The HWMrules came into effect to guarantee safe –
Offering for sale;
Destruction of Hazardous Waste.
HWMrules governing the transboundary movement of hazardous waste were enacted in 1989. But these rules have been amended over time. Notably, the final notification was of the Hazardous Waste (Management, Handling and Transboundary Movement) Rules, 2016. The rules stipulate various duties of several authorities like CPCB, MoEF&CC, State/UT Govts. DGFT, PCCs/SPCBs, and Customs and Port Authorities. Amongst all, the Pollution Control Committees (PCCs)/State Pollution Control Boards (SPCBs) are liable to hold many responsibilities covering almost all aspects of hazardous wastes handling, generation and disposal.
Basel Convention to control Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Disposal
The first inclusive attempt at regulating hazardous waste came from the Basel Convention. This was introduced to control disposal and govern the transboundary movement of hazardous waste. The Convention was adopted on 22nd March 1989 by the Conference of Plenipotentiaries in Basel, Switzerland.
The Basel Convention controlling the Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal aims to protect the environment and human health. The scope of application of the Convention covers a wide range of wastes outlined as “hazardous wastes”.
The Basel Convention aims to–
restrict the transboundary movements of hazardous wastes except where it is supposed to be complying with the ethics of environmentally sound management;
reduce hazardous waste generation and promotion its environmentally sound management at the place of disposal; and
form a regulatory system applying to cases where transboundary movements are allowed.
Principle rules governing the transboundary movement of hazardous waste
Lately, two main principle rules govern the transboundary movement of hazardous waste. Defined in the Basel Convention, these two principles are waste handling in an environment-friendly way and prior informed consent.
By stating an environment-friendly manner, it is indicated that the waste must be handled protectively so that it doesn’t harm the surroundings. Moreover, it is the responsibility of the waste producer to ensure that the recipient has the means and technology to do this. This can be done in another way by the waste producer ensuring to dispose of the waste properly at the source. This indeed ensures proper governing of the transboundary movement of hazardous waste.
On the other hand, prior informed consent means that the transit state or the recipient must be fully informed of the hazardous waste that is about to enter its territory. Also, it must accept such waste by giving its consent. If this consent is not provided, the transboundary movement of hazardous waste isn’t allowed. Also, the waste must be re-imported in case the decision is violated.
Cases where import/export of hazardous waste to/from India is illegal
The import and export(transboundary movement) of hazardous or other wastes to/from India is deemed illegal if –
The permission has been obtained through misrepresentation, falsification, fraud; or
It is without the consent of the Central Government as per the rules; or
it leads to deliberate dumping (i.e., disposal) of other or hazardous waste in breach of the Basel Convention and general principles of domestic or international law; or
it doesn’t adhere to the shipping details mentioned in the movement documents.
In case of illegal hazardous or other waste import, if the importer is not traceable, the waste can either be sent to an authorised treatment, storage and disposal facility (TSDF) or sold by the customs authority to any user with authorisation from SPCB.
In case of illegal hazardous or other waste import, the importer must re-export the waste at his cost within ninety days from its arrival in India. According to the rules governing the transboundary movement of hazardous waste, the concerned Port and the Customs authority must ensure this. If the Port and Customs authorities dispose of the waste, this must be done as per these rules with permission from SPCB where the Port exists.
General Overview of the Hazardous Waste Transboundary Movement Rules
Application area where the rules governing the transboundary movement of the hazardous waste don’t apply
These rules do not apply to –
wastes resulting from the ship operation beyond five kilometres of the applicable baseline
exhaust gases and wastewater
wastes included under the Municipal Solid Wastes (Management and Handling) Rules, 2000
Terms defined under the rules governing the transboundary movement of hazardous waste
The HW (Management, Handling and Transboundary Movement) Rules define “hazardous waste” as any waste which, by properties like chemical, physical, reactive, biological, flammable, toxic, corrosive or explosive, results in danger or is expected to cause danger to environment or health, whether in contact with other wastes or alone. Also, the hazardous waste must include the following –
waste with equal to or more than the concentration limits mentioned for the constituents in classes A and B or C of Schedule II;
waste mentioned under column (3) of Schedule I; and
Wastes mentioned in Part A of Schedule III regarding the export or import of such wastes.
Another term defined under the rules governing the transboundary movement of hazardous waste is “transboundary movement”.It means any movement of other or hazardous wastes from a region under the jurisdiction of one nation to or through a region under the jurisdiction of another nation or to or through a region not under the jurisdiction of any nation, given that at least two nations are involved in the movement.
Roles and Responsibilitiesstated under the rules governing the transboundary movement of hazardous waste
Roles of the occupier for management of hazardous and other wastes
The hazardous and other wastes produced in the occupier’s unit must be sold or sent to an actual authorised user. Or else it must be disposed of in an authorised disposal establishment.
The occupier stands responsible for environmentally sound and safe management of hazardous and other wastes.
The transboundary movement of the hazardous wastes must be from an occupier’s facility to an authorised disposal establishment or an actual authorised user as per the provisions of these rules.
Accident reporting according to the rules governing the transboundary movement of hazardous waste
In case of an accident at the unit of the operator of the disposal establishment and occupier dealing with hazardous or other wastes or during transportation, the operator/occupier/transporter must immediately inform the SPCB via e-mail and telephone about the accident. S/hemust then subsequently send a report in Form 11.
As per the rules governing the transboundary movement of hazardous waste, the occupier, operator and exporter or importer of the disposal facility stands responsible for all damage caused to the third party or environment because of improper management and handling of the hazardous and other waste.
Authorisation mandated by the rules governing the transboundary movement of hazardous waste
Grant of authorisation for managing the transboundary movement of hazardous wastes
Every occupier engaged in the generation, handling, collection, packaging, storage, transportation, treatment, use, recycling, processing, recovery, pre-processing, utilisation, offering for sale, co-processing, disposal, or transfer of the hazardous and other wastes must apply in Form 1 to the SPCB. This must be done to obtain the authorisation mandates by the rules governing the transboundary movement of hazardous wastes. The authorisation must be obtained within sixty days from the date of the rule’s publication.
The following documents need to be attached to the application for authorisation–
Consent to Operate (CTO)
Consent to Establish (CTE)
A self-certified compliance report, in case of authorisation renewal (If the renewal application is made three months before the expiry of the authorisation)
any person involved in reprocessing or recycling of the hazardous waste and having registration must not make an application for authorisation till its expiry; and
any person authorised under the Hazardous Waste (Management, Handling and Transboundary Movement) Rules, 2008, before the date of commencement of these rules, must not make an application for authorisation till its expiry.
Upon receiving the complete authorisation application, the SPCB, after an inquiry and being satisfied that the applicant has appropriate facilities, technical capabilities and equipment adhering to the SOPs or other rules mentioned by the CPCB and through site inspection, grants the authorisation. As per the rules governing the transboundary movement of hazardous wastes, the authorisation is granted in Form 2 within four months. Moreover, the authorisation remains valid for five years, subject to conditions.
Note: In the case of renewal of authorisation, the SPCB, before granting such authorisation, may satisfy that there has been no condition violation and record the same in the inspection report.
The authorisation by the SPCB must have a copy of the field inspection report attested by that Board. The report must mention the efficiency of facilities for storage, collection, transportation, packaging, processing, treatment, destruction, use, recovery, recycling, pre-processing, utilisation, co-processing, offering for sale, disposal or transfer of the hazardous and other wastes.
Every occupier authorised under the rules governing the transboundary movement of hazardous waste must maintain a record of the other hazardous wastes managed by him in Form 3. He must then submit this form to the SPCB and an annual return with information mentioned in Form 4 on or before 30th June of the financial year to which that return relates.
Power to suspend or cancel an authorisation
The SPCB can deny granting the authorisation after offering enough chances for the applicant to be heard.
Upon cancellation or suspension of the authorisation, the SPCB may instruct the occupier to manage and store hazardous and other wastes safely.
Storage of hazardous and other wastes as per rules governing the transboundary movement of hazardous waste
The occupiers may store the hazardous and other wastes for over three months. They shall maintain a record of the transfer, sale, recycling, storage, pre-processing, recovery, utilisation and co-processing of such wastes. Also, the occupiers must make these records available for inspection.
Export and import of hazardous and other wastes
The nodal authority governing the transboundary movement of hazardous wastes(export and import)
The rules governing the transboundary movement of hazardous wastestatetheMoEF&CCas the nodal Ministry to deal with the import and export of wastes accordingly.
Strategy for (export and import) transboundary movement of hazardous and other wastes
Importing hazardous and other wastes from any nation is allowed only for recovery, recycling, and utilisation, including co-processing and reuse.
The import of hazardous waste as per Part A of Schedule III is permitted to actual users with the informed consent of the exporting nation. It will also need MoEF&CCpermission.
The export of hazardous wastes from India mentioned in Part A and B of Schedules III and VI must be with the permission of MoEF&CC. The application for the export of hazardous waste is considered based on the prior informed consent of the importing nation.
According to the rules governing the transboundary movement of hazardous waste, no import of the hazardous wastes specified in Schedule VI is allowed.
The import and export of hazardous wastes not mentioned in Schedule III but displaying the hazardous characteristics must have prior written permission from the MoEF&CCbefore its transboundary movement from India.
Procedure for import of hazardous wastes as per the rules
Actual users seeking to transit or import for transboundary movement of hazardous wastes must apply in Form 5. The application must be submitted with the documents, informed consent well in advance of the exporting country and acknowledgement from SPCB to the MoEF&CC.
Before approving the consignment of wastes, the customs authorities must verify the documents.
Upon receiving the complete application, MoEF&CCgrants the import permission within two months, subject to the condition that the importer has –
Adequate arrangements for disposal and treatment of wastes generated;
The environmentally sound units;
Prior informed consent from the exporting nation; and
Valid consent and authorisation from the SPCB.
MoEF&CC then forwards permission’s copy to the related CPCB, Port and customs authorities, and the SPCB.
Furthermore, the importer must maintain records of the transboundary movement of the hazardous wastes he imported in Form 3. This record must be made available for inspection when asked.
Samples of hazardous wastes up to 1000 gm or 1000 ml imported for research and development or testing purposes are exempted from taking permission.
The Port and Customs authorities must make sure that the shipment also contains the movement document in Form 6. It must also have a test report of consignment and waste analysis from a laboratory recognised or accredited by the exporting nation. The customs may verify the analysis if any doubt appears.
Process for export of hazardous wastes from India as per the transboundary movement rules
Any occupier seeking to export waste must apply in Form 5 along with insurance cover to MoEF&CC for the recommended transboundary movement of the hazardous wastes. The application must be accompanied by written informed consent from the importing nation.
Upon receiving the application, the MoEF&CCgrants permission for the intended export within two months. But the Ministry may impose some conditions as it may regard important.
The Ministry then sends a copy of the permission granted to the concerned SPCB and the PCB of the state where the Port of export is located. A copy is also sent to the related Port and Customs authorities to guarantee compliance with the conditions of the export permission.
The exporter must guarantee that no consignment is shipped before obtaining prior informed consent from the nation.
The exporter must also make sure that the shipment contains a movement document inForm 6.
The exporter of the hazardous wastes must maintain the records in Form 3 and make them available for inspection.
Packaging and labelling as per the rules governing the transboundary movement of the hazardous waste
Any operator of the TSDFs and occupier must make sure that the hazardous wastes are packaged in a way suitable for safe storage, handling and transport according to rules stipulated by the CPCB. The labelling must be done according to Form 8. Also, the label shall be weatherproof, non-washable, and easily visible.
Transportation of hazardous wastes
The occupier must update the transporter with the appropriate information in Form 9. S/he must also label the hazardous waste containers as per Form 8. The transboundary movement of hazardous waste must be according to these rules and the guidelines by the CPCB and the norms by the Central Government under the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988.
In transporting hazardous and other waste for utilisation or recycling, including coprocessing, the sender must inform both the SPCBs before handling the waste to the transporter.
In the case of transporting hazardous waste for final disposal to an establishment located in a state other than where the waste is produced, the sender must get a ‘No Objection Certificate from the SPCBs of both states.
In the case of transboundary movement of the hazardous waste, the responsibility of safe transport must be either of the receiver or sender, whosoever arranges the transport and holds the necessary authorisation from the specific SPCB.
In case of transfer of hazardous wastes for utilisation, recycling or disposal via a state other than the states of destination and origin, the sender must send prior intimation to the related SPCBs before handing over the wastes to the transporter.
The receiver or the sender, on whose behalf the transport is being arranged, must obtain the authorisation for transport.
Movement Document (manifest system) for hazardous wastes to be used within India only
According to the rules governing the transboundary movement of hazardous waste, the sender must make seven signed copies of the manifest in Form 10 having the colour code indicated below:
Copy number with colour code
Copy 1 (White)
The sender must send this to SPCB after signing all seven copies.
Copy 2 (Yellow)
To be kept with the sender after getting it signed by the transporter. Also, the remaining five copies are to be carried by the transporter.
Copy 3 (Pink)
To be kept with the receiver (TDSF operator or actual user) after getting the waste. Also, the receiver must sign the remaining four copies.
Copy 4 (Orange)
The receiver must give it to the transporter after getting the waste.
Copy 5 (Green)
The receiver must send this to the SPCB.
Copy 6 (Blue)
The receiver must send this to the sender.
Copy 7 (Grey)
The receiver must send this to the concerned SPCB (if the sender is in another state).
No transporter must accept waste from the sender for transport until it has signed copies 3 to 7 of the movement document.
There is no denying that hazardous wastes are sometimes shipped from or to other nations for disposal, treatment or recycling. Therefore, the rules governing the transboundary movement of hazardous waste are based on economic and environmental grounds with the agreement between the receiving and exporting nations. This can surely help to ensure that waste is recycled or reused in an environmental-friendly way.