NGT Directs Maharashtra Government to Develop Action Plan for Safe Disposal of Used Condoms

National Green Tribunal NGT
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Mubarak Ansari

Pune, 30th November 2023: The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has issued a directive to the Maharashtra State Urban Development Department to formulate a comprehensive action plan for the proper disposal of used condoms. This decision follows a petition filed in 2018 by law students associated with Sahayog Trust’s ‘Lawyers for Earth Justice,’ raising concerns about the neglected issue of treating non-biodegradable waste.

Lawyers Nikhil Vidyadhar Joglekar, Bodhi Sham Ramteke, Vaishnav Gajanan Ingole, Vikrant Anil Khare, Omkar Ajit Keni, and Shubham Deepak Biche, under the banner of ‘Lawyers for Earth Justice,’ brought the issue to the NGT’s attention. The petition, filed with the assistance of Adv. Asim Sarode and Adv. Shriya Awale, targeted multiple entities, including condom manufacturing companies and government departments.

The NGT bench, headed by Justice D. K. Singh and Dr. Vijay Kulkarni, emphasized the non-biodegradable nature of condoms and directed the government to treat them as such, advocating for municipal incineration as an appropriate disposal method. The tribunal has instructed the Maharashtra government to draft an action plan to address this environmental concern.

Adv. Asim Sarode argued that condoms should be classified as ‘solid waste’ under the Bio-Medical Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 1998, rather than being treated as plastic waste under the Plastics Rules, 2011. The NGT further directed consumers to use leak-proof pouches provided by manufacturers for wrapping used condoms before disposing of them with dry waste.

The petitioners expressed disappointment in the NGT’s reliance on 2018 guidelines by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) as a solution. While acknowledging the validity of the demand for condom manufacturers to provide special pouches, Adv. Asim Sarode expressed skepticism about the implementation of solid waste disposal norms by pollution control boards and municipalities.

This NGT verdict is seen as a preliminary step in recognizing used condoms as hazardous non-biodegradable sanitary waste. The Maharashtra State Urban Development Department has been given a six-month deadline to present the action plan, following which the petitioners may return to the NGT for further deliberation on effective implementation.