the Union department of information and technology (doit) recently proposed to provide up to 50 per cent subsidy to e-waste recycling units. But only units registered with the Union ministry of environment and forests (moef) will be eligible for the subsidy, said doit.
Environmentalists are dismayed at the move. "Recycling e-waste should be curbed since even the best technology isn't 100 per cent safe. The government subsidy is of no use," says Ramapati Kumar of Greenpeace.
Many e-waste recycling units exist all over the country and most are unregistered. "Collecting e-waste is a big challenge and needs producer responsibility. But the government is not doing anything," says Ravi Aggarwal, director of the ngo Toxic Links.With the proliferation of e-waste recycling units in the country, there is no need to give subsidy to these units. "What we need is a proper collection mechanism," he adds.
Many big companies in Europe and the us, like Dell and Hewlett Packard, have committed to use clean production mechanisms for their products by 2009. Some, like lg, Nokia and Sony Ericsson have even started the trend. But discarded electronics continue to find their way to small unorganised and unsafe units in India and its neighbouring countries. "The waste comes in the form of donations to schools or through false declarations at the customs," says J M Mauskar, chairperson, Central Pollution Control Board.
Presently, there is no separate legislature dealing with the imports of e-waste in the country. "E-waste imports are regulated under the Hazardous Wastes (Management and Handling) Rules, 1989. But the rules are inadequate. We plan to amend it to make import monitoring more stringent," says Laxmi Raghupati, additional director of moef.
But Aggarwal disagrees, "A set of rules similar to the medical waste management rules would be better rather than amending the hazardous wastes rules. Why not make a separate legislation for e-waste?"
Electronics producers too need to make products with longer life and take back waste once they are no longer in use. The European Union has drafted the Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals regulation bill in this regard that comes into force by mid-2007.
According to Raghupati, the moef was drafting "something" that would be made public only by the end of January 2007, and will help clear the confusion.
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