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Issue 36
, 2012
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Rules aim at reduction in use of hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment

Source: The Hindu, Date: , 2012

The e-waste (Management & Handling) Rules, 2011 will come into effect from Tuesday. The rules were notified in May 2011 and aim at reduction in the use of hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment by specifying threshold for use of hazardous material including lead, mercury and cadmium.

These rules were notified in advance to give the various stakeholders adequate time to prepare themselves and also to put in place the required infrastructure.

They will apply to every producer, consumer or bulk consumer, collection centre, dismantler and recycler of e-waste involved in the manufacture, sale, purchase and processing of electrical and electronic equipment or components.

The rules place the main responsibility of e-waste management on the producers of the electrical and electronic equipment by introducing the concept of “extended producer responsibility” (EPR).

However, they will not apply to lead acid batteries as covered under the batteries (Management and Handling) Rules, 2001, micro and small enterprises as defined in the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Act, 2006 (27 of 2006) and radio-active wastes as covered under the provisions of the Atomic Energy Act, 1962 (33 of 1962).

Sectors like information and telecommunications equipment and consumer electrical and electronics falling within the specified categories will have to ensure that the products do not contain lead, mercury, cadmium, hexavalent chromium, poly-brominated biphenyls or poly-brominated di-phenyl ethers above a specified threshold.

EPR is the main feature of the rules, wherein the producer of electrical and electronic equipment is given the responsibility of managing such equipment after its end of life; thus the producer is responsible for their products once the consumer discards them. Under EPR, the producer is also entrusted with the responsibility to finance and organise a system to meet the costs involved in complying with EPR.

Critical issue

Disposal of e-waste is a critical issue the country is facing today, with rapid technological advancement and growing obsolescence rate of electronics and electrical goods. The country is saddled with huge toxic waste, estimated to be more than 8 million tonnes.
Experts sceptical

“The big question is how effective are these rules going to be and is the industry ready to roll out an effective e-waste management plan. Experts feel that in the absence of any target or accountability check, the rules may not be able to change much on the ground,'' Satish Sinha, (Associate Director, Toxics Link) said in a statement here.

Illegal textile processing units thrive along Bhavani river

No action taken to curb the menace, say farmers action needed:Effluents let into a channel near Bhavani in Erode district.  
The continuous dumping of untreated, toxic effluents by the textile processing units in the Bhavani river is now threatening to become an environment disaster harming the district's agricultural sector severely.

The absence of any serious action from the district administration and Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board has led to the establishment of hundreds of unauthorised textile processing units along the banks of Bhavani river and the water carrying channels in Bhavani and its surrounding areas.

Due to official neglect, many water carrying channels have now become outlets for untreated effluents pouring in from these unauthorised units. The effluents discharged in these channels finally enter the Bhavani river, which is the lifeline of thousands of farmers in the district.

Though the problem is not new, its dangerous consequences are growing by the day.

“The agricultural productivity in many areas had come down as the discharge of effluents poisoned the soil. The fall in the productivity had forced many farmers to quit their profession,” says Kalingarayan Pasana Sabhai president V.M. Velayudham.

Many farmers in the area feel that agriculture is no longer a profitable venture because of the fall in the crop productivity and non-remunerative prices for their produces.

The increase in the pollution levels also poses serious threat the health of the farmers and the labourers.

The officials are not very helpful when we take the pollution issue to their notice. They often make tall promises.
But the tall promises alone will not solve the pollution problem in the district, farmers point out.

“We have been fighting against the polluting industrial units for years. But the problem is growing bigger by the day due to inaction from the authorities,” alleges district secretary of Tamil Nadu Farmers Association T. Subbu.

If the governments do not act immediately and close all the polluting textile processing units, it is very difficult to save the agriculture sector in the district, he says.