POPs prohibition in India

Persistent Organic Pollutants are the compounds which persist for longer durations in the environment causing toxicity. United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) defines POPs as “chemical substances that persist in the environment, bioaccumulate through the food web, and pose a risk of causing adverse effects to human health and the environment”.
Stockholm Convention was adopted on 22nd May 2001 with an objective to list and eliminate POPs. It entered into force from 2004. It was ratified by 181 countries till date which does not include United States, Italy, Malaysia, and Israel.  See the full list of ratified countries HERE.

POPs in India Rules

Persistent Organic Pollutants- The List

The POPs are listed under various Annexes of the Convention, namely: Annex A (elimination), Annex B (restriction) and Annex C (unintentional production). The initial Stockholm Convention list in 2004 included 12 chemicals (dirty dozen). In August 2009, nine new chemicals were added to an agreement and came into force a year later. In April 2011, endosulfan became the 22nd POPs. During the sixth meeting, held in May 2013, hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD) was included as 23rd POPs.

1) Pesticide POPs

Annex A:
  1. Aldrin,
  2. Alpha hexachlorocyclohexane,
  3. Beta hexachlorocyclohexane chlordane,
  4. Chlordecone,
  5. Dieldrin,
  6. Endrin,
  7. Heptachlor,
  8. Lindane,
  9. Mirex,
  10. Pentachlorophenol and its salts and esters,
  11. Technical endosulfan and its related isomers, and
  12. Toxaphene;
Annex B: DDT.

2) Industrial POPs

Annex A:
  1. Hexabromobiphenyl, hexabromocyclododecane,
  2. Hexabromodiphenyl ether and heptabromodiphenyl ether,
  3. Hexachlorobenzene,
  4. Hexachlorobutadiene,
  5. Pentachlorobenzene,
  6. Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB),
  7. Polychlorinated naphthalenes (PCN),
  8. Tetrabromodiphenyl ether and
  9. Pentabromodiphenyl ether;
Annex B:
Perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS), its salts and perfluorooctane sulfonyl fluoride (PFOSF).

POPs in India

India and Environment

One of the decisive events that led to a series of legislation for the protection of the environment was the Bhopal Gas Tragedy in 1984, caused due to leakage of poisonous gas from a pesticide manufacturing plant, which affected more than 200,000 people. 

This triggered the passage of the Environmental (Protection) Act (EPA), 1986. The EPA is one of the most important umbrella legislation of the country. The Act gave the government extensive power to monitor and regulate industries.


India is one among the nations which ratified the Stockholm convention and took a few steps in the progress of the prohibition of POPs.

Country-specific experience including the demonstration of the strategies for implementation of the provisions of the Stockholm Convention is often presented in the National Implementation Plan (NIP) document or may be described in intergovernmental documents of United Nation institutions.

The Government of India, with financial and technical support from the Global Environment Facility (GEF), initiated the NIP development process during September 2007. During the development
of the NIP, the ground-level situation of 12 POPs were assessed through inventorization, samples collection, analysis and interpretations (Government of India, 2011). India transmitted its NIP to the Secretariat of the Stockholm Convention on April 21, 2011.

It can be seen that seven out of 11 chemicals (aldrin, chlordane, dieldrin, endrin, heptachlor, toxaphene and lindane) that were use to produce in India have been banned. The use of DDT was banned in agriculture in 1990; however, its use is regulated and permitted only under the disease vector control programe of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India as per World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines till viable alternatives are found. During 2014, Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India issued notifications on regulation of Mirex and HCB.

The central government banned PCBs (Polychlorinated Biphenyls) containing imports under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986. By publishing a draft notification in August 2015, the government published the official order after considering the suggestions from the public hearing.
In a similar way, On 29 August 2017, Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate change released a notification regarding the regulations to be implemented by the Central Government on POPs. This notification stated that:

The manufacture, trade, use, import and export of the following seven chemicals shall be prohibited, namely:-

  1. Chlordecone;
  2. Hexabromobiphenyl;
  3. Hexabromodiphenyl ether and heptabromodiphenyl ether (commercial octa-BDE);
  4. Tetrabromodiphenyl ether and pentabromodiphenyl ether (commercial penta-BDE);
  5. Pentachlorobenzene;
  6. Hexabromocyclododecane and
  7. Hexachlorobutadine.

Source: Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate change
              Ashwani Sharma (Environmental management framework of persistent organic pollutants in India Existing scenario and prospects)

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