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'Legislation on e-waste will make India a dumping ground'

A Customs officer says there was no clarity in laws handling waste that enters India in the guise of charity or study material, reports Chetan Chauhan.

india Updated: Nov 30, 2006 02:56 IST

The new electronic waste legislation proposed by the Ministry of Environment and Forests has come under severe criticism from experts saying it does not adhere to the international conventions and will open floodgates for e-waste dumping in India.

It was earlier reported from Mumbai that hazardous e-waste was entering India in the grab of charity and study material sent from abroad and is posing threat to country's environment.

"There is no clarity in laws handling waste which comes into our ports in the guise of charity goods or study material," said Customs Joint Commission Rajiv Yadav.

Bas de Leeuw, head of strategy unit of United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), said, "India should design a better legal structure and all stake holders should be taken into confidence to protect the environment."

"Large scale unethical export of e-waste by industrialised nations is taking place," he added.

Ramapati Kumar of Greenpeace said the draft e-waste legislation, if enacted in the present form, would open floodgates to e-waste dumping in India.

"It is a toothless piece of paper," he said. According to an estimate by Toxic Links, an NGO dealing with e-waste, every year over 50,000 tonnes of e-waste is dumped in the Indian cities.

The draft Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) bill circulated by the government earlier this year envisages regulation of dumping of electronic waste from homes and industry.

Only agents registered with Central Pollution Control Board would be authorised to buy e-waste from consumers.

Consumers can be penalised for dumping e-waste in garbage dumps. "The approach will put undue responsibility on the consumer and the local municipal authorities without providing any ownership of the solutions," said Ravi Aggarwal of Toxilinks, an NGO working on e-waste.

However, taking back e-waste from consumers is not mandatory in the draft legislation.

"It is in the interest of Indian business to have a strong and comprehensive e-waste legislation in place," Kumar said.

It would be better to adopt the European mode on e-waste as many developing countries like China are adopting it, he added.

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First Published: Nov 30, 2006 00:47 IST