India must stop importing old equipment (e-waste) from foreign countries because other countries use this as a means to dump their toxic waste.
On Friday, various stakeholders ranging from manufacturers to recyclers unilaterally agreed that the import of old equipment for recycling or reuse must be deleted from the final E-Waste (Handling & Management) Rules 2010. The stakeholders along with the Maharashtra E-Waste Association and the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board debated the draft rules. Suggestions and objections from stakeholders were invited and will be sent to the Ministry of Environment and Forest within one week.
“For example, we don’t want foreign countries to provide computers as charity for schools in India. It’s the route for dumping into the country that is used as the final resting place,” said Satish Sinha, executive director, Toxics Link. “We should follow the rules of the Basel Convention that restrict transboundary movement of hazardous waste as India is a signatory to it. Even second-hand goods though permitted by the convention, must not be dumped here.”
The debate assumes significance because the Central Pollution Control Board in February said Mumbai topped the list of electronic waste producing cities in the country followed by Delhi. While in 2005, 146,800 tonnes of e-waste was generated in India, the number is is expected to increase to 800,000 by 2012.
Apart from the listed items that generate e-Waste such as large and small household appliances, toys, medical devices, electronic and electrical tools, there was also a consensus that the new rule should incorporate lighting equipment such as CFL bulbs and lights.
Unlike Europe and even China, the draft rules either do not define threshold limits of chemicals in materials that can be make its way into the country or they are much below those specified world over. This leads to dumping of low quality products in India.