Archive for the 'Environment' Category

New Plastic Waste Handling and Management Rules (2011)

The following Press Note was released by the Ministry of Environment and Forest on 7 February 2011:


Press Note

February 7th, 2011: The Ministry of Environment and Forests has today notified the Plastic Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 2011 to replace the earlier Recycled Plastics Manufacture and Usage Rules, 1999 (amended in 2003). These Rules have been brought out following detailed discussions and consultations with a wide spectrum of stakeholders including civil society, industry bodies, relevant Central Government Ministries and State Governments.

Releasing the Rules the Minister for Environment and Forests, Mr. Jairam Ramesh said “It is impractical and undesirable to impose a blanket ban on the use of plastic all over the country. The real challenge is to improve municipal solid waste management systems. In addition to the privatization and mechanisation of the municipal solid waste management systems we must be sensitive to the needs and concerns of the lakhs of people involved in the informal sector”

[I] Salient Features
Some of the salient features of the new Rules are:-
. Use of plastic materials in sachets for storing, packing or selling gutkha, tobacco and pan masala has been banned.
. Under the new Rules, foodstuffs will not be allowed to be packed in recycled plastics or compostable plastics.
. Recycled carry bags shall conform to specific BIS standards.
. Plastic carry bags shall either be white or only with those pigments and colourants which are in conformity with the bar prescribed by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS). This shall apply expressly for pigments and colourants to be used in plastic products which come in contact with foodstuffs, pharmaceuticals and drinking water.
. Plastic carry bags shall not be less than 40 microns in thickness. Under the earlier Rules, the minimum thickness was 20 microns. Several State Governments in the meanwhile, had stipulated varying minimum thickness. It is now expected that 40 microns norms will become the uniform standard to be followed across the country.
. The minimum size (of 8×12 inches) for the plastic carry bags prescribed under the earlier Rules has been dispensed with.
. Carry bags can be made from compostable plastics provided they conform to BIS standards.

One of the major provisions under the new Rules is the explicit recognition of the role of waste pickers. The new Rules require the municipal authority to constructively engage agencies or groups working in waste management including these waste pickers. This is the very first time that such a special dispensation has been made.

[II] Role of Implementing Authority
The Municipal authority shall be responsible for setting up, operationalization and coordination of the waste management system and for performing the associated functions, namely;
. To ensure safe collection, storage, segregation, transportation, processing and disposal of plastic waste;
. To ensure that no damage is caused to the environment during this process;
. To ensure setting up of collection centres for plastic waste involving manufacturers;
. To ensure its channelization to recyclers;
. To create awareness among all stakeholders about their responsibilities;
. To ensure that open burning of plastic waste is not permitted.

[III] Additional Safeguards
. No carry bags shall be made available free of cost to consumers. The municipal authority may determine the minimum price for plastic carry bags.
. The municipal authority may also direct the manufacturers to establish plastic waste collection centres, either collectively or individually, in line with the principle of
‘Extended Producers Responsibility’.
. The new Rules have stipulated provisions for marking or labeling to indicate name, registration number of the manufacturer, thickness and also to indicate whether they
are recycled or compostable.

A link to the MOEF notification, dated 4 February 2011, can be found here.


“Do Nothing” Video

This short, two-minute video – “Do Nothing” – offers a humorous view for community engagement while serving as a point of discussion for students and youth to take up responsible action in Pondicherry.

Get involved!

Awareness Campaign on Thin Plastics Ban

Adirai Addresses Gathering

Plastics Ban Awareness Campaign

As enforcement approaches, the Pondicherry government initiated an awareness campaign for its planned ban on the usage of thin plastics (below 50 microns).  The event was led by the Pondicherry Pollution Control Committee with the Department of Science, Technology and Environment.  Invitees reached over 1000 persons in a packed conference hall including students, teachers and concerned citizens all listening intently to government officials in their attempt for environmental improvement and change.

Initiating the program was a young 7th standard JNV student (Adirai) taking the stage. Her poetic recital on climate change, environmental destruction and plastics enthralled the audience; she left the stage to a standing ovation.  It was a speech indicating the necessity for immediate action, and its importance for her and the future generation.  With weeks remaining on the subsequent ban, awareness needs to be spread across Pondicherry to ensure effective, adequate compliance.

By Sashti Balu

Ban on Plastic Bags, Cups and Plates Under 50 microns

On 9 December 2009, the Government of Puducherry (GOP) issued a notification banning polythene or plastic bags and disposable cups and plates under 50 microns in thickness.  The partial text of the notification reads:

…no person including a shopkeeper, vendor, wholesaler, retailer or trader shall use, sell or store polythene or plastic carry bags of thickness 50 microns or below, of size less than 8 x 12 inches, disposable cups and plates of thickness of 50 microns or below whatsoever, for supply of goods in the Union Territory of Puducherry.

The other plastic carry bags, disposable cups and plates apart from the category mentioned above manufactured, used, sold or stored in the Union Territory of Puducherry shall contain the name of the manufacturing unit, address, thickness and size of the product printed on it.

Let us hope that the Puducherry Pollution Control Committee (PPCC), which is in charge of implementing this notification, is successful in working with the various stakeholders to create awareness and put in place a monitoring system.

PondyCAN Press Release on World Oceans Day – June 8, 2009

World Oceans Day Image.Web Small.090606

The concept for World Oceans Day was proposed in 1992 by the Government of Canada at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro and it had been unofficially celebrated every year since then. Official designation by the U.N. is a significant step in conserving and protecting our world’s ocean.

World Oceans Day provides an opportunity each year to celebrate our world oceans and our personal connection to the sea.

As of 2009, “World Oceans Day” has been officially declared by the United Nations as June 8th each year!

The world’s oceans:

  • Generates most of the oxygen we breathe
  • Helps feed us
  • Regulates our climate
  • Cleans the water we drink
  • Offers us a pharmacopoeia of potential medicines
  • Provides limitless inspiration!

One of PondyCAN’s initial initiative has been to bring back the beach along the Pondicherry coast, on the shores of the Bay of Bengal. This initiative is now expanding its scope to safeguarding the coast of the whole country. It is therefore only natural that we are engaged in the celebrations of the World Oceans Day.

We hope you will join us in the pledges we will take on this day.

Best regards
from the PondyCAN team


June 8, 2009

PondyCAN is proud to join leading educational institutions, conservation organizations, and  individuals in dozens of countries around the world to celebrate our shared oceans.  World Oceans Day – held on June 8 of each year – is an opportunity to celebrate our world oceans and our personal connection to the sea.

The Ocean Project, an international network of over 830 aquariums, zoos, museums, and conservation organizations is working closely with the World Ocean Network to coordinate activities worldwide under the theme “helping our climate – helping our ocean” with a special focus on coral reefs.

The world’s oceans cover more than 70% of our planet’s surface and the rich web of life they support is the result of hundreds of millions of years of evolution. Nomadic peoples were collecting shellfish and harvesting fish long before the dawn of settled agriculture. Great human civilizations, from the Egyptians to the Polynesians relied on the sea for commerce and transport. In our immediate region, the great Cholas were able to spread their empire across much of the Far East by their close relationship with the sea. Now, at the end of the Twentieth Century, our fate is as tied to the oceans as ever. We still rely on fish for a significant portion of our daily protein needs, and more than $500 billion of the world’s economy is tied to ocean-based industries such as coastal tourism and shipping. Perhaps most important, this vast mass of water acts to help regulate the global climate and to ensure that a constant flow of vital nutrients is cycled throughout the biosphere.

But all is not well in the sea. Increased pressures from overfishing, habitat destruction, pollution and the introduction of invasive alien species have combined in recent decades to threaten the diversity of life in estuaries, coastal waters and oceans. Now a new threat, global warming, is making itself felt, and its impacts could be devastating for life in the sea. In addition to this, in our country, man-made beach erosion due to thoughtless planning and improper implementation is causing the sea, our friend, to become our enemy, lashing hard at our villages and towns and cities, turning our water saline and leaving us vulnerable to its waves and storms. And we blame the sea, our friend, instead of opening our eyes and seeing that it is we, through our careless actions, that are responsible.

Let us take a pledge:

  • Never to distress the sea by taking away its beaches and in turn making ourselves vulnerable to the effects of beach-erosion
  • That any development on the coast is done only after scientific studies determine it is alright
  • That we cannot allow poisoning our own food by indiscriminately putting un-treated sewage and harmful chemical effluents into the sea
  • That we understand that anything we do to harm the sea and oceans in turn harms us and
  • Anything we do to protect and sea and oceans keeps us healthy and safe.

65 years and 2 days ago, the bravery and selflessness of a few was able to change the course of a century. More than a 1000 crafts came in from the sea, bringing 160,000 allied troops to land on the beaches of Normandy. That decisive moment and act of immense bravery led to the victory of the allied forces over the Nazis. It is remembered and revered and commemorated every year because it was a victory won against all odds.

If everyone on the planet took a pledge to live in harmony and peace not only with each other but with everything else on this beautiful blue planet of ours and beyond, we can rest assured of the victory  –  the survival of our species.

So from PondyCAN to all of Pondicherry, India and the rest of world:

Think about this and do what you can.

And as Ocean Project urges: Wear Blue and Tell Two

35 Francois Martin Street
Pondicherry 605 012

India’s National Action Plan on Climate Change Released

Our vision is to make India’s economic development energy-efficient. Over a period of time, we must pioneer a graduated shift from economic activity based on fossil fuels to one based on non-fossil fuels and from reliance on non-renewable and depleting sources of energy to renewable sources of energy. In this strategy, the sun occupies a center stage, as it should, being literally the original source of all energy. We will pool our scientific, technical and managerial talent, with sufficient financial resources, to develop solar energy as a source of abundant energy to power our economy and to transform the lives of our people. Our success in this endeavour will change the face of India.

On 30 June 2008, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh released India’s National Action Plan on Climate Change, which was prepared under the guidance of the Prime Minister’s Council on Climate Change.

The Plan focuses attention on 8 priority “national missions”:

1.  Solar Energy
2.  Enhanced Energy Efficiency
3.  Sustainable Habitat
4.  Conserving Water
5.  Sustaining the Himalayan Ecosystem
6.  A “Green India”
7.  Sustainable agriculture
8.  Strategic Knowledge Platform for Climate Change

Ministries have been directed to submit detailed implementation plans by December 2008 to the Prime Minister’s Council on Climate Change.

The full text of the Prime Minister’s speech on the occasion of the release can be found here.

Mired in Garbage

Garbage dumped in Thengaithittu

Garbage being burned in Thengaithittu. Photo by T. Singaraveluo, The Hindu

The residents of Thengaithittu and Uppalam villages have been living with the pollution, environmental degradation and biodiversity loss of illegally dumped garbage in and around the Thengaithittu River and along the main road leading to Thengaithittu for years. An article in today’s Hindu quotes the Municipal Councillor for Ward 39 in Thengaithittu saying:

“Vehicles of both private contractors and the municipality dump the garbage here. The site allotted for garbage dumping is at Karuvadikuppam, but they do not go there owing to the distance factor.”

Pleas to local government authorities to stop the dumping have gone unheeded. The article, by Serena Josephine M, titled “No end to garbage dumping here” reports:

…the officials said it was unauthorised dumping of garbage and private contractors were doing it without the knowledge of the authorities. “We had issued strict instructions to the private contractors not to dump the garbage at Thengaithittu. But they dispose of the garbage during nights,” an official said.

Ah, what can a government do when its own contractors break the law?  And if it is done during the night, how can the government know about it?

Residents have filed complaints, stopped trucks, and even raised money to clean up the mess last year, but the dumping continues. Government officials offer a solution when a Rs. 47 crore (approximately US$ 11 million) proposal for an “integrated solid waste management project” submitted by the Puducherry (Pondicherry) government is approved by the Central government.

No point enforcing the law until you have a more permanent solution in place no matter how long it takes, eh?  Who can blame the contractors for taking shortcuts at the expense of the citizens?  After all, they can save so much more money if they don’t have to drive all the way to the legal dump at Karuvadikuppam.  What’s a little smell, ruined wetland habitat, loss of biodiversity, and mosquito-borne diseases?