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Issue 43
, 2013
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Piling e-waste turning city toxic

Source: Times of India, Date: , 2013

HYDERABAD: Throwing out your old computer in a garbage dump may lead to mercury poisoning and a possible brain stroke. Confused? Experts on e-waste (electronic waste) management warned Hyderabadis against the hazards of not disposing e-waste properly and going by their claims, the city could have its very own Erin Brockovich story if immediate steps are not taken.

In fact, some say the city is at the top spot when it comes to illegally converting PC monitors into television sets especially during lucrative periods like the ongoing IPL season, and later dumping them in water bodies.

Around 50,000 such converted television sets are manufactured here and sent to other cities as well.

"There are very few authorised recyclers of e-waste in Andhra Pradesh whereas there is no dearth of unauthorised dealers," said Jagadish Kumar Yadav, director of marketing at Tech Logic E-waste Recyclers, a company based in Bangalore, which collects electronic garbage from several cities, including Hyderabad.

"These unauthorised dealers indulge in activities such as converting monitors to TV's and reselling other appliances too at lower prices. During the IPL season, at least 50,000 such TVs are sold to bookies, pubs and hotels in various cities who later simply dispose them in nearby water bodies or open areas, leading to contamination," he added.

Experts said chemicals inside electronic appliances, especially mobile phones, laptops and desktops, such as lead and mercury, could seep through the ground and contaminate the ground water. Although the process takes long, it would eventually result in serious ailments, including brain stroke and cancer, among those exposed.

"Being an IT hub, Hyderabad generates almost just as much e-waste as Bangalore. But the amount collected for recycling by authorised dealers is less than half of that of Bangalore's," said G M Adil, general manager at Global E-waste Management Solutions (GEMS) which has earmarked the city as a collection point.

Officials from the company revealed that while the amount of e-waste collected from Hyderabad is around 1,000 kg per month, the figure in Bangalore is closer to 3,000 kg. The total amount collected annually from here is around only 15% of what is collected in Chennai, they added.

"There is a need to spread awareness about proper disposal and recycling of e-waste here," said Mohammed Ibrahim Aamir Khan, vice president of GEMS, Hyderabad.

"Unauthorised dealers pay around Rs 15 more per kg of waste compared to us, so residents choose to sell old appliances to scrap dealers. We are trying to change that by placing e-waste bins in several public places and holding workshops in companies, schools and colleges," he said.