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Issue 1
December , 2006
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Proposed e-waste legislation harsh on consumers, easy on producers

Source: Toxics Link, Date: December , 2006

India's emergence as an e-waste hot spot with an estimated 50,000 tonnes of it being dumped annually across its cities, which includes a substantial amount from imports, has drawn attention of the Government as reflected in the draft Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) bill circulated earlier this year.

The response from the organisations that have campaigned hard to highlight the emerging menace is one of dismay. They claim that the draft not only fails to take note of international conventions but also has a vital component of a mandatory obligation for the producers missing from it. Only agents registered with Central Pollution Control Board would be authorised to buy e-waste from consumers. If the user dumps their e-waste into general waste stream they would be penalised as per this proposed law.

Non-governmental organisations Greenpeace and Toxics Link have criticised this shortcoming in the draft legislation. While the former has dubbed it as a toothless legislation in media reports, the latter has said that the proposed solution would place the onus on the consumers and local municipal authorities and yet not place an appropriate ownership of the problem.

As per estimates of a nation-wide study sponsored by the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), the CPCB and the GTZ, the e-waste generation, comprising washing machines, refrigerators, computers and TVs, in India is estimated to be 1,46,181 tonnes. Punjab figures prominently in top 10 contributors, besides Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Delhi, Gujarat and Karnataka. Occupational health hazard to workers is the major impact of the recycling and recovery activity.