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Electronic waste-management: Appears that violation of environmental law is not priority, says NGT

Stating there was a clear governance deficit on the subject, the principal bench of the NGT headed by chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel ordered that scientific disposal of e-waste should be ensured as per rules. T

By: Express News Service | New Delhi |
Updated: January 20, 2021 8:38:02 am

HUGE GAPS in compliance of electronic waste-management rules show authorities’ lack of concern for health of the citizens, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has said in a recent order.

Stating there was a clear governance deficit on the subject, the principal bench of the NGT headed by chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel ordered that scientific disposal of e-waste should be ensured as per rules. The direction was issued to central and all state pollution control boards.

“Environmental crimes are as serious, if not more, as cases of assaults but there is no adequate action… Unfortunately, it appears that violation of environmental law is not the priority. Such neglect can prove very costly,” the bench noted while hearing applications on unscientific disposal of e-waste on January 15.

“For petty benefit of retrieving metals etc, the poor labour class is engaged in burning electronic wires or other waste to the detriment of their own health and also the health of others which is not being duly checked… Constant vigilance is required. Liability of manufacturers is not being enforced,” the bench said.

In 2018, the environment ministry had told the tribunal that 95 per cent of e-waste in India is recycled by the informal sector and scrap dealers unscientifically dispose it by burning or dissolving it in acids.

Data shared by Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) with the NGT shows India generated more than 10 lakh tonnes of e-waste in 2019-20, an increase from 7 lakh tonnes in 2017-18. Against this, the e-waste dismantling capacity has not been increased from 7.82 lakh tonnes since 2017-18.

“We direct that further steps be now taken for scientific enforcement of E-Waste Management Rules, 2016 (EWMR) in the light of the reports of the CPCB and the Oversight Committee for the State of Uttar Pradesh,” the bench said. It also noted gaps in collection targets, as the amount of e-waste collected in 2017-18 was over 25,000 tonnes against a target of 35,000 tonnes. In the following year, the target was 1.54 lakh tonnes against which 78,000 tonnes was collected.

In a report submitted to the NGT in November, the Oversight Committee had said Uttar Pradesh must ensure allocation of proper space to existing and upcoming industrial units for e-waste dismantling and recycling.

“Illegal recycling and processing of e-waste is concentrated in a few hotspots in the state. Seelampur in New Delhi is a hub, and Loni, Baghpat and Moradabad in UP are the hotspots. We need to step up enforcement of e-waste management rules in these hotspots, combining local enforcement with supervision from task force to obviate local vested interests,” the Oversight Committee had said.

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