Separate rules for e-waste disposal by May 15: Ramesh

Monday, April 19, 2010

NEW DELHI - The government will specify by May 15 a separate set of regulations for disposal of e-waste, parliament was informed Monday.

“Disposal of e-waste is becoming an increasingly important challenge for the government. Therefore, there is a need to take more precautionary measures. We will have a separate set of rules for this by May 15,” Minister of State for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh said during question hour in the Rajya Sabha.

He was responding to a supplementary question on the steps taken by the government to ensure proper disposal of e-waste.

He also admitted to two major lacunae in the existing provisions.

“Hitherto, there were no separate regulations for the disposal of e-waste as this was governed by the rules relating to disposal of hazardous waste. This has been addressed by a separate set of rules,” he said.

More importantly, “some 85-90 percent of e-waste disposal is done in the unorganised sector, in cities like Moradabad and others, over which the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has no control”.

“The answer lies in bringing the unorganised sector into the formal sector,” Ramesh pointed out.

“I myself have seen in Dharavi (Asia’s largest slum in Mumbai) a flourishing recycling industry which no government has the courage to control as it would lead to an enormous loss of jobs,” he added.

Ramesh noted in this context that under the public-private-partnership model, 14 facilities would be created for proper treatment, storage and disposal of e-waste.

“India is both an importer and exporter of e-waste. Once the new rules are in place and we take a clear and tough stance on the disposal of e-waste, these will send a strong signal that we are serious about this.

“I would appeal to members to support the government’s efforts for the proper disposal of e-waste and not complain about jobs being lost (when units in the unorganised sector are shut down),” Ramesh added.

Replying to the main question on whether the government was aware that e-waste was directly affecting the environment, he said: “Based on a survey carried out by the CPCB, it is estimated that 1.47 lakh tonnes of e-waste was generated in the country and is expected to increase to about 8 lakh tonnes by 2012.”

He also deprecated the tendency to import second-hand computers and other electronic goods “in the name of charity”.

“This eventually finds its way into the disposal markets in the unorganised sector,” Ramesh pointed out.

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