Toxic Trade News / 1 January 2006
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City is now biggest electronic graveyard
Mumbai is generating maximum electronic waste as a city in the country, a survey has revealed.
by Aditya Ghosh, DNA India (Mumbai)

1 January 2006 (Mumbai, India) – The survey has warned about health hazards due to the waste and has pointed out that the city is ill-equipped to manage such a huge amount of waste.

The survey, the first-ever in the country, was carried out by IRG Systems South Asia on behalf of GTZ, a German agency, which is partnering the CPCB in drafting a regulation guideline on the issue.

According to the survey, Mumbai produces 11,017 tonnes of e-waste annually. Delhi comes next with 9,730 tonnes of e-waste. Surprisingly, India’s Silicon Valley, Bangalore, comes third, producing 4,648 tonnes — less than half of that of Delhi and one-third of Mumbai. Next is Chennai with 4,132 tonnes and Kolkata with 4,025 tonnes.

The has also expressed concern at even smaller cities fast becoming a dump yard for such wastes. While Ahmedabad produces 3,287 tonnes, Hyderabad generates 2,833 tonnes, Pune 2,584 tonnes and Surat 1,836 tonnes.

The survey comes immediately after the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests’ exercise of preparing a draft manual on electronic wastes (e-waste) assessment. The manual will provide a standardised approach and methodology for assessment of e-waste in major cities.

The CPCB’s draft manual being prepared with the help of GTZ, a German agency for technical cooperation, and EMPA, a Swiss laboratory for material testing and research, will contain a database format for documenting and recording waste from electronic and electrical equipment (WEEE) at a centralised place.

Maharashtra is the largest producer of WEEE, followed by Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Delhi, Karnataka, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Punjab.

Improper handling, recycling and disposal processes make e-waste, comprising toxic substances, harmful to human health and the environment.

For example, cathode ray tubes (CRTs) have high content of carcinogens like lead, barium, phosphor and other heavy metals, which during breaking, recycling or disposing in an uncontrolled environment without necessary safety precautions, can result in harmful effects for workers and release toxins into the soil, air and groundwater.

Another dangerous process is the recycling of components containing halogenated chlorides and bromides.

Landfilling e-waste, one of the most widely used methods of disposal, can cause hazards because of leachate, which often contains heavy water resources. Older landfill sites and uncontrolled dumps pose a much greater danger of emission of hazardous gases.

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