Concerned over recent radiation exposure incident in the capital, Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh has written to the Finance Ministry on a joint mechanism to sensitise customs department to ensure that no hazardous material is dumped in the country.

“I have written to the Finance Minister very recently that we need to have a joint mechanism between the Ministry of Environment and Forest and the Ministry of Finance so that the customs department becomes much more sensitive to this area,” Mr. Ramesh said in the Lok Sabha during the Question Hour.

Replying to a supplementary that whether India’s ports are equipped to check the hazardous materials, the Minister said, ”...the honest answer is no” and asserted that procedures at the ports will be tightened to bring about a greater control on the import of hazardous waste.

He, however, said that India has a strong set of hazardous wastes management rules but their implementation needs to be strengthened especially at the port level to ensure that such material was not dumped in the country.

“We need to ensure better coordination with the customs authorities which we are attempting. We also need to ensure that our trade policy does not allow the free import of wastes.”

Mr. Ramesh assured the House that as far as hazardous waste is concerned, the Central Government will not shirk its responsibility and come up with strictest possible rules and ask the States and local authorities to cooperate in monitoring the implementation of these rules.