Persistent organic pollutants in Indian environment: a wake-up call for concerted action

11 Jan 2018

India has a comprehensive apparatus of environmental laws. However, the lack of an integrated approach to the regulation of chemicals, poor management of pollution, and the fundamentally retrospective vision have resulted in ineffective implementation of the laws as demonstrated by the example of Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) in the environment.

Modern tools for the management of chemicals, including the registration, evaluation, and authorization of chemicals (REACH), a tool deployed in the European Union (EU) are developed not only to mark the boundary of substances used but also to define new spaces for the markets of chemical substances within the overall frame of sustainable development: players unable to meet the demands from these markets will be eventually forced to leave them. India, as an industrial and technologically advanced nation in many fields, cannot afford to be an outsider in this area of scientific, technological, and policy development. The large but fragmented network of acts, laws, rules, etc. should be replaced with a unique, integrated, and holistic system supported by clear mandates for a limited number of designated authorities.

The capacity to undertake scientific investigations and to monitor environmental pollution and its impacts need to be expanded to fill the gap in this regard found in the developing countries. Investment to attain environmental quality that meets international standards with reference to the levels of toxic chemicals has to be regarded as a national priority for India; combining such investment with international cooperation can be a fundamental tool to remove quickly the current defects in risk management and environmental quality.