Bids to dispose of banned pesticides make slow progress

Close to dumping them: Official

Kathmandu, June 18:

Efforts to dispose of tonnes of outdated pesticides from 22 locations across the country have been moving at a tardy pace since 2001. That was the year when the government banned 12 pesticides like chlordane, aldrin and Mirex, collectively called “Dirty Dozen”.

Six years on, the government is close to actually getting rid of the hazardous waste from various dumping grounds. But much will depend on how long it takes to collect funds and hire a contractor who can organise its safe disposal. The waste has to be burned in nuclear furnances.

Talks are currently on between the authority concerned and the Vienna-based United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) to co-fund the effort. Nepal will foot half the bill under the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPS).

“We are close to getting rid of it all. We all know Amlekhgunj is the biggest dumping ground. The total requirement in terms of money is Rs 140 million,” said Shankar Kumar Shrestha, who is associated with POPS Enabling Activities Project under the Ministry of Environment, Science and Technology (MOEST). “Money had never been a deterrent. What ruled out disposal so far was we had no inventory and no National Implementation Plan (NIP). That took time. Now, we have the inventory and the plan,” Shrestha further said.

He said this while reacting to comments coming from environmental activist Bhairav Risal, who said that successive governments have remained insensitive to the urgency of disposing of the unwanted pesticide.

“We chased the issue of safely dumping 72 tonnes of hazardous waste. What we felt is they are not sensitive at all. If the government is really keen, it must ship the waste to nations which produce them. There is a law,” Risal said.

However, Shrestha, who said that while there is no such law, did concede that there is a possibility of certain nations like Germany taking certain pesticides, which are still manufactured there. Significantly, Germany had declined to help Nepal dispose of the hazardous waste in the recent past, saying that “the request has to come from the top level.” This had left Nepal with the conventional option of talking with the UNIDO which will secure funds from the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) for disposal.