Disposable danger

In 2001, the government imposed a strict ban on the use of 12 most dangerous pesticides like chlordane and mirex. But tonnes of unused and now outdated pesticides from around 22 locations across the country have not been disposed of yet. Since disposal is not possible in Nepal (the wastes can only be burnt in nuclear furnaces), it is extremely difficult to get rid of these hazardous wastes. The government needs adequate financial resources and a contractor for the ‘safe’ disposal. In addition, a high-level contract is required with industrialised nations that churn out pesticides. But there is no law for this. Germany, for instance, has, reportedly, refused to help Nepal in this regard saying that the request should come from the ‘top level.’ Moreover, activists argue that money is not the real deterrent. The delay has been caused, they say, mainly due to absence of implementation strategy for the disposal plan.

Clearly, successive governments have remained insensitive to the urgency of the disposal of those chemicals that have serious repercussion on the public health. In Nepal, it is the poor farmers and their children in the remote parts of the country who are exposed to these harmful pesticides as it is they who are directly involved in agriculture for which the pesticides are imported. In many villages, dumping sites are too close to the schools. The government has no choice but to seek international help. In this regard, the ongoing talks between the Nepal Government and UNIDO (UN Industrial Development Organisation) should receive high priority.