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NGT orders study to find if cigarette butts fall within category of toxic waste

twitter-logoPTI | April 12, 2019 | Updated 20:03 IST

New Delhi, Apr 12 (PTI) The National Green Tribunal Friday directed the Ministry of Environment and Forests to get a study conducted as to whether cigarette and bidi butts fall within the category of toxic waste or not. A bench headed by Justice Raghuvendra S Rathore and expert member S S Garbyal directed the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) to get the study done by Lucknow based-Indian Institute of Toxicology Research within a period of two months. "In case, on the basis of the analysis by IITR, Lucknow it is determined that cigarette butts fall within the category of toxic waste, then the ministry is directed to immediately come out with appropriate rules in this regard. This exercise is to be done by IITR, Lucknow within a period of two months from today and if necessary, the ministry will formulate the rules within one month thereafter," the bench said. The tribunal said all the expenses required for the analysis and study by IITR, Lucknow shall be borne by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB). "A copy of the report be sent to director, IITR, Lucknow by email, forthwith. The director, IITR, Lucknow may send the copy of the analysis report to the tribunal also. The registry shall thereafter list that report before the court," the bench said. The order came after the CPCB informed the NGT that it does not have the adequate infrastructure to authentically determine as to whether the discarded cigarette and bidi butts fall within the category of toxic waste. However, he suggested that this analysis can be done and opinion be given by Indian Institute of Toxicological Research, Lucknow. The tribunal had slammed the MoEF for terming cigarette butts as 'biodegradable' and directed it to clarify its stand on the issue. The tribunal had earlier issued notices to the MoEF, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and CPCB on a plea filed by by a doctors' body seeking prohibition on consumption of tobacco in all public places and proper disposal of related waste. Doctors for You, an NGO working towards cancer care, had moved the NGT asking that the Centre be directed to declare cigarette and bidi butts "toxic waste". It had claimed that tobacco was causing major health problems and its "cultivation, processing, production and disposal was harming the ecology badly". The plea had sought directions to prohibit consumption of tobacco in any form in all public places and ban the use of plastics for packing tobacco used in cigarettes. According to the plea, cigarette butts are concentrated toxic waste dumps and their improper disposal causes environmental problems. "Discarded cigarette or bidi butts are a form of non- biodegradable litter...While India is working towards Swachh Bharat, nearly 100 billion non-biodegradable cigarette butts and one trillion bidi butts are getting disposed of into environment every year.... "Cigarette butts leach out toxic chemicals. The leachate (liquid that drains from a landfill) from cigarette butts is acutely toxic to representative marine and freshwater fish species," the plea had said. PTI PKS KJ

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