The threat of electronic waste (e-waste) destroying the ecological health is looming large over India.
The threat of electronic waste (e-waste) destroying the ecological health is looming large over India. E-waste from old computers is set to jump 400 per cent within the next five years, while it is expected to increase seven times from 2007 levels within the next five years. Mr Anand Kumar, senior environment engineer Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) pointed out that a CPCB survey conducted in 2005 estimated that 1.47 lakh tonnes of E-waste was being generated in the country in 2005. “Seven states including Delhi, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, UP, West Bengal, Punjab and Karnataka generated 70 per cent of the total amount of e-waste.” CPCB’s annual report also revealed that eight lakh tonnes of e-waste was generated in 2012. NCR’s Department of Environment secretary Sanjiv Kumar warned that presently “Delhi was generating 32 tonnes of e-waste a day with 1,500 trucks required every day to lift the waste. No land has been allocated to dump it within the NCR and other neighbouring states are not willing to give us land,” he said. With a great deal of this waste being handled by the unorganised sector, health issues of workers handling the waste have become paramount. Centre for Occupational and Environmental Health, Maulana Azad Medical College, chief Dr T.K. Joshi in New Delhi studied the health of 250 people working in the city as recyclers and dismantlers over a 12-month period and discovered that almost all of them suffered from breathing problems such as asthma and bronchitis. A MAIT workshop held in the capital to focus on how to implement e-waste rules for bulk consumers saw Amit Sardana, managing director of Dataserv APAC, pointing out that there was a pressing need to ensure recycling was handled in a professional and sanitised manner. CAG has also warned that over 7.2 MT of industrial hazardous waste, 4 lakh tones of e-waste, 1.5 MT of plastic waste, 1.7MT of medical waste and 48 MT of municipal waste are being generated annually.