Customs officials among 8 booked by CBI for e-waste imports through Kochi port
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Wednesday booked eight persons including four senior Customs officials for facilitating import of electronic waste (e-waste) through Kochi port.
These consignments were imported as computer spares and new photocopiers, but later it was found they were e-waste containing hazardous substances such as cadmium, according to the probe agency.
Exposure to cadmium in high doses over short periods can cause respiratory irritation, but over a long period of time, it can cause lung and kidney disorders.
The CBI found 25,000-odd used multi-functional photocopiers, mainly from US and Germany, came through the Kochi port in the last three years.
The directorate general of foreign trade stipulates a licence for importing second-hand photocopiers, classified as hazardous waste. The CBI found some of the Customs officials were aware of the fraud and they issued certificates saying they were all brand new items.
“We raided 12 locations in Kochi and three in Kolkata. We have registered cases against four customs personnel and officials of a Kolkata–based domestic appliances company,” a CBI spokesperson said in Kochi. “Equipment worth Rs 100 crore was imported in three years,” the spokesperson added.
During investigation, the agency found that multiple Kolkata-based companies that imported these machines were bogus. The machines were imported by a single agency under different names, according to the CBI.
India produced 2 million tonnes of e-waste in 2016, according to a United Nations-backed report released in December 2017.
India has one of the fastest growing electronics industries in the world, and its e-waste production is likely to touch three million tonnes in 2018.
Improper disposal of e-waste leads to toxicity from exposure to lead, cadmium, chromium, brominated flame retardants and polychlorinated biphenyls through inhalation or because of build-up in the environment.