UPSC Exam Preparation: Topic of the Day – Initiatives for Chemical Disaster Risk Reduction
The Indian chemical industry through its performance and potential has contributed to 2.11 percent of the country’s GDP with 10.49 billion dollars as FDI in the last five years. It is estimated that the Indian chemical industry would grow at 11 per cent per annum to USD 154 billion by 2020. However, major chemical disasters disrupt its growth and need to be prevented. Chemical disasters could arise at any stage of the plant/process life cycle such as commissioning, storage, manufacturing, maintenance, disposal and transportation etc. The loss of contaminant of hazardous chemicals can lead to fire, explosions, toxic release or combination of them.
- At a time when the population density is high and more and more residential colonies are brewing up around the industries, a major mishap at a chemical plant can spill catastrophe to the people and environment. Besides fire and explosion hazard, the release of toxic chemicals can cause irreparable damage that can last long to people as well as to the environment.
- The elements which are at highest risks due to chemical disaster primarily include the industrial plant, its employees & workers, hazardous chemicals vehicles, the residents of nearby settlements, adjacent buildings, occupants and surrounding community.
Safety initiatives taken in India to address chemical risk
Comprehensive legal/ institutional framework for Chemical Disaster Risk reduction exists in India. A number of regulations covering the safety in transportation, compensations, insurance and liability have been enacted.
Following are the relevant provisions on chemical disaster management, prevailing in the country:-
- Explosives Act 1884
- Factories Act 1948
- Environment Protection Act 1986
- Public Liability Insurance Act 1991
- Petroleum Act 1934
- Insecticides Act 1968
- Motor Vehicles Act 1988
- Disaster Management Act 2005
The Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) is the nodal Ministry for the management of chemical disasters. National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has prepared guidelines to direct ministries, department and state authorities for the preparation of disaster management plans.
- NDMA has laid down guidelines for providing directions to ministries, departments and state authorities for the preparation of their detailed disaster management plans.
- NDMA has provided specific inputs for avoidance of future chemical disasters in the country, along with suggested amendments on the existing framework.
- Revamping of CIFs (Chief Inspectorate of Factories) to strengthen chemical safety in India is also a priority.
- In addition, the National Action Plan on Chemical Industrial Disaster Management (NAP-CIDM), has been finalized. This will act as the roadmap for chemical disaster management in India.
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