New Delhi: The Centre has banned the manufacture and import of toxic pollutant Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) and directed complete prohibition on its use in any form by end of 2025. PCBs are synthetic organic chemicals used in many different products including electrical equipment, inks, adhesives, flame-retardants, and paints. Its production and use are now severely restricted in many countries because of possible impacts on human health and the environment.

Union Environment Ministry has banned manufacture and import of PCBs under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 effective from April 6, this year, said a notification issued in this regard.

“The use of PCBs in any form shall be completely prohibited by 31st December, 2025,” it said. The Ministry has notified the ‘Regulation of Polychlorinated Biphenyls Order, 2016’ which also bans import of equipment containing PCBs.

That apart, the import, export or trade of PCBs contaminated equipment will be regulated as per the provisions of the Hazardous Wastes (Management, Handling and Transboundary Movement) Rules, 2008.

The use of equipment containing PCBs will be permitted for their certified life time or December 31, 2025, whichever is earlier, provided that they are maintained properly without possibility of leakage or release of PCBs to environment.

Also, the total quantity of PCBs, the number of equipment containing PCBs contaminated with this chemical which are in use and their stockpiles — all the inventory details need to be furnished to the ministry within one year.

The government has directed users not to drain or discharge PCBs directly or indirectly on land, in surface water or effluent treatment plant from defective, out of use PCBs containing or contaminated equipment or in use PCBs containing equipment.

The waste PCBs or equipment contaminated with PCBs should be disposed of as per the provisions of the Hazardous Wastes (Management,Handling and Transboundary Movement) Rules, 2008 by December, 31 2028.

Stockpiles of PCBs if any should also be destroyed in environment beneficial manner by December, 2028, the notification added.

However, the government has allowed use, sale and import of PCBs in quantities as required for research and development activities in central universities, Council of scientific and Industrial Research Laboratories, government institutions or Central Power Research Institute after the concurrence of the Union Environment Ministry.

The government’s decision is in line with the Stockholm Convention, under which signatory countries are to prohibit or take necessary legal and administrative measures to eliminate the production and use of PCBs. India signed it in May 2002.

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