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Issue 10
February , 2009
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Not a wasted effort anymore

A lively discussion at DU on issues of e-waste and bio-medical waste management
Source: Soma Sen, Date: January , 2009

Yet in another attempt to create awareness amongst the young masses, Environment and Health Public Lecture was held in School of Environment Studies (SES), Delhi University (DU), on 28th Jan ’09, the topic of discussion being “Hazardous Waste”. The panelists included Dr. T.K Joshi, Occupational and Environmental Health Expert, Maulana Azad Medical College; Priti Mahesh and Anu Agarwal, experts on E-waste and Bio-medical Waste from Toxics Link.

e-waste Dr. Mihir Deb, Director, SES, DU delivered the inaugural address. He expressed his warm gratitude towards Toxics Link for collaborating with SES in organizing an event like public lecture for the young students. He had also expressed his concern for the environmental disaster.

Dr. Joshi talked at length on the health impacts of hazardous waste. He stated that waste management is one of the most problematic and challenging environmental issues. He explained the different sectors from where hazardous waste is generated and also the nature of the waste. He cited many live examples from his treasure house of knowledge and shared information amongst the students in the simplest form, as he believes “the subject matter needs to be explained in simple terms to the audience, specially the young who are our hope”.

Priti Mahesh briefed the students about the current scenario related to Hazardous Waste Managemnet in India. She talked on e-waste and the laws and regulations that are being set up for the proper handling and disposal of e-waste. However, these regulations remain open ended with lots of loopholes in it, resulting in lack of self-regulation and implementation. She expressed her views on how in absence of a proper and stringent legislation in India, waste, not only e-waste but also solid municipal waste is being shipped to India and other developing countries. An area of concern as pointed out by Priti is the health of workers engaged in recycling waste and also the repercussion on environment.

Bio-medical waste was another important subject of discussion and Anu Agarwal gave an insight of the history of biomedical waste – how biomedical waste was treated in India before 1995, Toxics Link’s contribution towards setting up the guidelines on biomedical waste in the country and its subsequent follow ups for sustained interest and its implementation. She explained the ill effects of mercury and why this needs to eradicated.

e-waste dismentaling Concern for the environment was very much evident among the young audience when the house was heated up during the question answer session. Young audience raised several questions - how to dispose the used batteries; how to dispose of the mercury; what is Government’s move towards its eradication? Though Ms. Anu explained the measures set up for mercury spill yet the ultimate solution to abolish mercury remained unanswered as the ultimate answer is to be given by the Ministry of Environment and Forest.

It was an interactive session and indeed overwhelming to see the enthusiastic young crowd concerned for the environment. As Dr. Joshi rightly said “I enjoyed the session. The company of young makes you feel young. So I enjoyed every bit of it”.

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