ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

A+| A| A-

A Silver Lining on Mercury

Legally-Binding Minamata Convention

Despite the approval of the union cabinet on the text of the Minamata Convention on Mercury held at Kumamoto in Japan in October 2013, and given its active participation in the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee meetings, India's impetuous stand on the convention is unexplainable and unjustifiable. This article appreciates the rationale of adopting a legally-binding approach, instead of much-pushed voluntary measures and why India, despite its active participation in the meetings, which shaped the convention, refused to sign it.

A proverb, every cloud has a silver lining, has interesting connotation with recent endeavours by the international community to adopt a legally-binding instrument, now known as the Minamata Convention on Mercury, as a ray of hope to protect the human health and environment from highly dangerous mercury contamination. This article is an attempt to appreciate the rationale of adopting a legally-binding approach (LBA), instead of much-pushed voluntary measures and why India, despite its active participation in the meetings, which shaped the convention, refused to sign it.

Mercury is a naturally occurring element (a heavy metal) having widespread uses globally. It is highly toxic, persists in the environment and has global ramifications on humans, wildlife and environment. It can be released into the air and water through natural processes such as weathering of rock containing mercury ore, volcanic eruptions or through human activities such as industrial processes, mining, deforestation, waste incineration and burning of fossil fuels. Mercury can also be released from a number of mercury-containing products including dental amalgam, electrical applications, laboratory and medical instruments including thermometers, batteries, compact fluorescent lamps, and other cosmetic products. Some mercury compounds are used in agriculture, principally as fungicides (substances that control fungus).

Dear reader,

To continue reading, become a subscriber.

Explore our attractive subscription offers.

Click here

Comments

(-) Hide

EPW looks forward to your comments. Please note that comments are moderated as per our comments policy. They may take some time to appear. A comment, if suitable, may be selected for publication in the Letters pages of EPW.

Back to Top