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Union Cabinet approves ratification of Minamata Convention on Mercury

Feb 8, 2018 15:18 IST
Union Cabinet approves ratification of Minamata Convention on Mercury

The Union Cabinet on February 7, 2018 approved the proposal for ratification of Minamata Convention on Mercury and depositing the instrument of ratification, enabling India to become a Party of the Convention.

The approval will bring about ratification of the Minamata Convention on Mercury along with flexibility for continued use of mercury-based products and processes involving mercury compound up till 2025.

Once ratified, the Convention will urge enterprises to move to mercury-free alternatives in products and non-mercury technologies in manufacturing processes.

The Minamata Convention on Mercury will be implemented with an aim to protect human health and environment from the anthropogenic emissions and releases of mercury and mercury compounds.

India signed the Minamata Convention on Mercury on September 30, 2014. The Convention gives 5 years time to India to control and reduce emissions from new power plants and 10 years time for the already existing power plants.

India signed the Minamata Convention on Mercury

Minamata Convention on Mercury
• The Minamata Convention on Mercury is a global treaty framed to protect human health and the environment from the adverse effects of mercury.

• It came into being on January 19, 2013, the day when the Convention was agreed upon by delegates of around 140 countries at the 5th session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee in Geneva, Switzerland.

• The convention is named after the Japanese city Minamata that has become synonymous with deadly mercury contamination since 1950.

• The Minamata Convention is part of a cluster of agreements that include- Basel Convention on the control of transboundary movement of hazardous wastes and their disposal; Rotterdam Convention for managing international trade in hazardous chemicals and pesticides and Stockholm Convention on the restriction and elimination of the production and use of persistent organic pollutants.

• The major highlights of the Minamata Convention on Mercury include a ban on new mercury mines, phasing-out of existing ones, control measures on air emissions, and the international regulation of the informal sector for artisanal and small-scale gold mining.

Mercury pollution
Mercury is used in the chemical and petrochemical industries and also in household products like Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs) and thermometers. It is heavily used in artisanal and small-scale gold mining to separate gold from the ore.

Mercury is also present in industrial effluents that are let into water bodies and thereby enters the human food chain through the consumption of fish. This is what caused the disaster at Minamata in the 1950s.

Contaminated sites including old mines, landfills and waste disposal locations are also some of the major sources of mercury pollution.

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