Sinlung /
09 September 2013

Electronic Waste Poses Eco Threat To Northeast India

By Naresh Mitra

Guwahati, Sep 9 : Ritusmin Deka bought a trendy laptop recently and discarded his older one as scrap with other unused electronic gadgets lying in his residence for years. What Ritusmin did not realize that the unused gadgets he disposed of has already added up to the piling electronic waste in the state.

Experts said the increasing penetration and use of electronic gadgets has subsequently led to rising volume of electronic waste, commonly known as E-waste in the northeast. They pointed out that smuggling of sub-standard electronic items from China, Myanmar and Bangladesh is also compounding the problem.

After a long meeting with officials of pollution control boards of NE states, Toxic Link, a New Delhi-based environmental NGO, on Friday said in the absence of a proper management mechanism in place, the rising volume of e-waste is set to pose a serious environmental threat to the region.

Though the NE states are yet to assess the exact quantum of E-waste generated in the region, Toxic Link associate director Satish Sinha said at a press conference here that preliminary estimates showed that Assam generates roughly 14,000 tons of E-waste, while Shillong (Meghalaya's capital city) generates approximately 446 tons annually. Sinha said Mizoram produces approximately 18 tons of E-waste.

"These assessments are not comprehensive and only approximate figures. Yet, these figures are indicators of rising E-waste in the northeast. At the meeting with pollution control board officials, we have discussed threadbare on how to make a proper roadmap for mitigating the environmental hazards through an appropriate E-waste management mechanism," said Sinha.

He added that at the national level, 8,00,000 tons of E-waste is generated annually and the trend is rising.

Toxic Link said the presence of toxic materials like lead, mercury, brominated flame retardants poses health and environmental hazards. Pollution control boards from six out of eight NE states, including Sikkim, took part in the E-waste management meeting.

"In 2011, the Union ministry of environment and forest issued E-waste management and handling rules. Yet, awareness on E-waste hazards in the northeast is still in its nascent stage. The meeting is only a beginning. The officials who participated at the meeting has assured to initiate measures for setting up proper collection centres of e-waste and creating public awareness," said Sinha.

Appealing to brands selling electronic gadgets to set up more collection centres for discarded electronic products in the region, Sinha said the meeting also decided to conduct proper assessment by respective state pollution control boards on the generation of E-waste.


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