The Jharkhand State Pollution Control Board (JSPCB) on Sunday issued notices to people engaged in disposal of e-waste in the state, asking them submit details of units where they dismantle and recycle the highly toxic materials.
Jharkhand has an ill-equipped disposal system where a major chunk of the e-waste is crudely dismantled or burnt in unauthoriesed units across the state, exposing millions to health hazards, said Sanjay Kumar Suman, member secretary of the board.
“Since electronic waste contains toxic metals and the hazardous and unscientific manner in which e-waste is dismantled across the state…the board has initiated steps to monitor the process under the E-Waste (Management and Handling) Rules 2011,” he said.
E-waste includes every bit of abandoned electronic and electrical material belonging to computers, CDs, mobiles, monitors, pumps and printers.
Normally, the parts are dismantled and the waste burnt to extract expensive metals, including gold.
The toxic fumes and the constant touch with metals like mercury, lead or cadmium can give rise to a host of ailments for workers involved in the unsupervised and unsafe process, leading environmental pollution, Suman said.
Board officials said anyone failing to comply with the provisions of the rules is liable to be imprisoned for five years and fined Rs 1 lakh or both.
The e-waste rule was implemented across the country on May 1, 2012, and the state pollution board has woken up after four years to enforce the rules.
The pollution board had launched an awareness campaign about scientific dismantling of e-waste in 2012, but failed to check the hazard.
Computer parts account for more than 68% of e-waste, followed by telecommunication, electrical and medical equipment.
E-waste contains thousands of toxic material and crude handling, dismantling and disposal of highly toxic e-waste can affect people who are exposure to them directly or indirectly.
Suman admitted that unsafe disposal of e-waste and recovery of metals in unscientific manner was being carried out on a large scale in Ranchi, Jamshedpur and Dhanbad districts, but refused provide data about units engaged in the processing e-waste across the state, who were violating the rules.
“Though do not have records how much e-waste is generated, consumed, stored and disposed in the state, the board will soon invite expressions of interest for inventories,” he said.
“After compiling reports, a comprehensive step will be initiated to check the hazard,” said Suman.