The Indian Government recently seized a container from the USA which held grenades and live ammunition. And during 2003, a consignment in Chandigarh exploded, killing two workers and injuring others.
While these and other incidents have caused a public outcry and led many to state they do no longer want foreign waste entering Indias shores, new laws set for announcement on November 13 are set to regulate more stringently what enters the country.
And although a growing quantity of mixed household recyclables are sent to India from the UK, it seems that these will not be subjected to the new registration requirements for the time being at least.
Indian Government director general of foreign trade NK Gupta stated unequivocally: There are no plans whatsoever for general waste to come under this, it is just for metallic waste.
We have had several shipments containing explosive shells and one from the USA contained live ammunition, guns and hand grenades. This in todays time worries everyone.
With effect from April 1 2007, unshredded metallic scrap will only be permitted from suppliers who register with the Indian Government.
The name of the importer in India must be given along with the exporter and clearance from the renowned trade association in that country, which in the UK would be the Environment Agency.
A legal undertaking will be signed by the exporter stating that it abides by Indian law. In a market that is worth $1 billion each year and has fetched 1,400 applications for registration, regulating metallic waste entering the country will be a difficult process, but according to Gupta, a very necessary one.
He added: We have no inkling to curb ferrous or non ferrous imports as we need it, we depend on it, but we cant have ammunition as it costs lives and has created a public opinion about imported waste.
Live weapons have come from a very small section, but its these that are hurting the majority. By registering, the process is not overly rigorous and we are not closing doors for those who can supply scrap.
However, Nathani Group of Companies director Ikbal Nathani suggested that the moves were already having a detrimental effect on trade and would potentially put companies off from dealing with India.
He pointed to harassment from customs, sniffer dogs and bomb squads holding up anything cylindrical for up to several weeks, with companies not being paid if the consignment didnt reach its destination.
But Gupta maintained that the rules were essential to safeguard Indias people.