Mercury Present In Parad Shivlings, Says Environment Group; Questions Minister’s Denial In Parliament
New Delhi, 02/08/2006
By Toxics Link
Responding to a question in Indian Parliament on July 28, 2006, the State Minister for Environment and Forests, Namo Narain Meena, has stated that there is no ‘conclusive evidence’ for establishing the claim for presence of high content of mercury in Parad Shivling that were being sold for use in homes.
This places a serious question mark on the possibility of a policy against mercury in India being adopted in the very near future and also inadvertently hints that the recently released studies on mercury done by Toxics Link and its partners have not been adequately taken note of by the authorities concerned.
In an announcement that is bound to come as a shock to organisations, groups and people campaigning for phasing out deadly mercury from India, the State Minister for Environment and Forests, Namo Narain Meena, has said that though the government was aware of the health hazards that the neurotoxin liquid metal causes, yet there was no ‘proposal’ to curb its current free import and trade.
Responding to a question in Parliament on July 28, 2006, he also stated that there was no ‘conclusive evidence’ for establishing the claim for presence of high content of mercury in Parad Shivling that were being sold for use in homes. The question was raised by B. K. H. Hariprasad in the Rajya Sabha (detailed question and response attached).
Not only does this places a serious question mark on the possibility of a policy against mercury in India being adopted in the very near future, it also inadvertently hints that the recently released studies on mercury done by Toxics Link and its partners have not been adequately taken note of by the authorities concerned.
Specifically, on the issue of mercury in Parad Shivling, a series of lab tests on Parad Shivling procured from online vendors, highlighted the threat it could pose to the environment and humans due to its volatility and leaching behaviour when it comes in contact with offerings such as milk that is later distributed to devotees. The process of leaching was established during the tests.
Toxics Link is now writing a letter to the State Minister for Environment and Forests to provide him scientific evidence on the issue, including the presence of mercury in Parad Shivling and its leaching tendency. Further, the environmental NGO also plans to seek a clarification on whether the Government has carried out any study of its own to refute the claim, made by sellers themselves, of the presence of mercury in the Parad Shivlings.
Parliament Question and Answer on Mercury:
GOVERNMENT OF INDIA
MINISTRY OF ENVIRONMENT AND FORESTS
UNSTARRED QUESTION NO 481
ANSWERED ON 28.07.2006
PHASING OUT OF MERCURY
481. SHRI B. K. H. HARIPRASAD
Will the Minister of ENVIRONMENT AND FORESTS be pleased to state:-
(a) whether studies by WHO and global environmental agencies have established the neuro-toxic effects of mercury which hampers nerve conditions and causes renal failure;
(b) while the Western countries are phasing out use of mercury for its adverse effects, whether, India’s imports of mercury have more than doubled in six years since 1996-97;
(c) whether even Parad Shivlings, traded and installed at homes for worship, has 30 percent mercury by weight as its key constituent; and
(d) whether Government would consider to put in a regulatory structure for phasing out the use of mercury of which India is the largest importer in the world?
MINISTER OF STATE IN THE MINISTRY OF ENVIRONMENT AND FORESTS
(SHRI NAMO NARAIN MEENA)
(a): Yes Sir.
(b): A decreasing trend has been observed in the import of mercury in India since the year 2003-04.
(c): No conclusive data on mercury content in Parad Shivlings are available.
(d): According to the Ministry of Commerce, mercury is freely importable and no proposal for changing the import policy for mercury is under consideration.
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