E-waste park to come up in Delhi, but many miles to go | Latest News Delhi - Hindustan Times
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E-waste park to come up in Delhi, but many miles to go

By, Alok KN Mishra
Apr 20, 2023 11:27 PM IST

DSIIDC floated a tender for the park in February, which states that the facility should be run according to E-Waste (Management) Rules, 2016

In April 2021, the Delhi government announced it would set up the country’s first electronic waste (e-waste) park — a space where e-waste could be collected and recycled under one roof. Two years on, the government has only identified a site to set up the park — in northwest Delhi’s Holambi Kalan.

Delhi currently generates an estimated 200,000 tonne of e-waste each year, based on Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) data. (Representative image/HT Archive)
Delhi currently generates an estimated 200,000 tonne of e-waste each year, based on Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) data. (Representative image/HT Archive)

The Delhi State Industrial & Infrastructure Development Corporation (DSIIDC) had floated a tender for the park in February, which states that the facility should be run according to guidelines laid down by the E-Waste (Management) Rules, 2016. The tender, however, found no takers, and was floated again in March.

A DSIIDC official involved in the tender process said: “We are going to hire an agency to carry out research and prepare a detailed conceptual plan for setting up the proposed e-waste facility. The plan should be developed with an aim to promote recycling and reprocessing of waste electrical and electronic equipment or assemblies or their components and having facilities.”

The official, asking not to be named, added, “Many bidders have applied and the most eligible among them will be selected as per the laid down process. Currently, the bids are being evaluated. The tender is likely to be awarded in a fortnight from now.”

Delhi currently generates an estimated 200,000 tonne of e-waste each year, based on Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) data. Without a dedicated e-waste park, the Capital is still reliant on the city’s only registered e-waste collection centre in northeast Delhi’s Mandoli Industrial area. There are meanwhile six registered e-waste dismantlers, spread across Okhla, Peeragarhi and Mandoli, while two registered e-waste refurbishers at Patparganj and Badarpur are responsible for generating value from the collected e-waste.

The DSIIDC official said the selected bidder will have to submit a feasibility report within six months from the date of the work award. “After the feasibility report is ready, the final tender for awarding the work for the development of the e-waste park will be floated with due approvals from the concerned authorities,” said the official.

However, environment department officials said that even after a tender is awarded, the construction of the park will take around 18 months, meaning at this pace, none will be operational before at least 2025.

A senior official, requesting anonymity, admitted that without the park, around 90% of Delhi’s e-waste either ends up being sent to landfill sites or largely ending up in the informal sector, where it is often recycled in the open and without proper guidelines or safety equipment.

“We have identified a 21-acre site at Holambi Kalan in northwest Delhi. A consultant will soon be appointed for the project, who will prepare a detailed project report (DPR) for the site and subsequently award a tender too,” the official said.

E-waste rules mandate the state government or any authorised agency ensure the collection of electronic waste through collection centres or a collection point, while also ensuring the recognition and registration of workers involved in dismantling and recycling such items.

The government also has to assist in the formation of groups of such workers to facilitate setting up dismantling facilities; undertake industrial skill development activities for the workers involved in dismantling and recycling and undertake annual monitoring and to ensure safety & health of workers involved in dismantling and recycling.

When the e-waste park project was initially announced, the then lieutenant governor Anil Baijal reviewed it in a meeting in September 2021 and set a project deadline of 2023-end. In a subsequent review of the project in July 2022, environment minister Gopal Rai said the project will be ready in another two years, setting a deadline of July 2024.

Currently, the process to dispose e-waste by the book is tedious. Currently, the Delhi government has no dedicated e-waste disposal helpline number. This means consumers cannot get e-waste collected from their homes, with the only options being to access e-waste collection points directly. In most cases, this e-waste is directly discarded with municipal solid waste.

In 2021, the erstwhile East MCD launched a toll-free helpline number (1800-102-9882) for the disposal of e-waste in areas under its jurisdiction. However, after the unification of the three civic bodies, the number– which connects users to a private agency, is now looking to manage Delhi’s entire e-waste now. The agency is now handling e-waste on behalf of the now unified MCD, with consumers able to get e-waste lifted through the same helpline number.

Priti Banthia Mahesh, chief programme coordinator at environmental NGO Toxics Link, noted that while rules for the disposal of e-waste exist on paper, its implementation on the ground is still severely flawed. “The new rules once again focus more on bulk consumers and brands as compared to individuals, which makes managing e-waste at the household level difficult. In the absence of a proper collection mechanism, such waste is bound to end up at landfills or reach informal units,” she said.

Toxics Link, in a 2018 study, found nearly 5,000 informal e-waste processing units functional across Delhi-NCR — a majority of them were operating without any proper guidelines or following any safety norms.

“...(Of the 15 areas across Delhi NCR) Seelampur in Shahdara, Mustafabad in north-east Delhi along with Behta Hazipur and Loni in Ghaziabad came across as the biggest hot spots, accounting for about 57%, 15%, 9% and 10% of all the e-waste informal processing and handling units in Delhi-NCR respectively,” the study had said. The other areas analysed included Mandoli, Mayapuri junk market, Jafrabad, Turkman Gate, Seemapuri and Shastri Park, among others.

To prevent e-waste from ending up at landfills or informal processing units, the Centre in 2016 introduced extended producer responsibility (EPR) rules, which made it mandatory for producers and manufacturers to collect a certain quantity of waste back from consumers so it could be recycled through the proper channel. While EPR is also part of the 2022 amendment, experts say awareness of this system is largely lacking.

“Consumers are still not aware of EPR to a large extent, and that they can return e-waste through the same manufacturer or retailer. At the same time, we are seeing poor collection of e-waste through this system… Some manufacturers show high numbers of collection, but actually the intake is not as high. We have seen in several cases, this e-waste does not end up at authorised recyclers, but rather in the informal sector,” Bharati Chaturvedi, founder and director of the waste management NGO Chintan Environmental Research and Action Group said.

A second DSIIDC official said that the proposed project will study problems and risks posed by the recycling system in the present and in future, including an assessment of the impact on the livelihood of waste aggregators, last-mile pickers and other stakeholders of the informal sector, and to the integrated unorganised sector in the process of e-waste collection and processing.

A senior MCD official from the department of environment management services (sanitation) said that the corporation has appointed a third-party vendor, Attero, to collect e-waste from residents, and to recycle these electronic goods under the defined norms. The official said citizens will also get paid for selling these items to the vendor, with a rate list available on https://ewaste.mcd.live/.

Nitin Gupta, CEO and co-founder of Attero, said “Our e-waste collection comes from manufacturers, service centres, waste aggregators and consumers directly. We are seeing an increase in the quantum coming from consumers as awareness around proper e-waste disposal is gradually increasing. In order to encourage more people to opt for proper e-waste disposal, we are looking at the highest standards for data security, providing a good price for end-of-life items, while also creating awareness on the impact of environmental degradation if this is handled by the informal sector.”

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