Srinagar, Dec 3: Unchecked electronic waste is posing a major environmental and health hazard in Kashmir.
Electronic waste or e-waste is used to describe all electrical appliances and electronic devices that are discarded for reuse, recycle or dumped in the bin.
In absence of organised processing of electronic waste, large amounts of pollutants are released into the atmosphere and exposes workers to greater health risks. The remaining e-waste ends up in rivers and open dumps causing great damage to the environment.
An official document of Jammu & Kashmir Pollution Control Board accessed by The Kashmir Monitor has revealed startling facts about the problem of e-waste in the valley.
“There is no organised e-waste management system or formal system. In absence of maintenance of figures/records of e-waste collected, dismantled, disposed, no data exists on how much waste is collected by such exchange/collection points leading to difficulties in compilation of data,” reads the document.
The e-waste management rules, 2016 apply to every manufacture, producer, consumer, bulk consumer, collection centers, dealers, e-retailer, refurbisher, dismantler and recycler involved in manufacture, sale, transfer, purchase, collection, storage and processing of e-waste or electrical and electronic equipment.
“Out of two dismantlers in the J&K only one is authorized with the Board. The dismantling is carried out manually, without proper personal protection equipment’s resulting in significant health problems of such unskilled workers employed because of contact with potentially toxic and hazardous waste component scrapped during improper manual process includes open burning, removing metals or recoverable elements by way of acids and contamination of the environment as well,” the document reads.
An official of Pollution Control Board said lack of seriousness and lack of appropriate skill is making the e-waste management difficult. “Various legislations must be considered by the government and other organizations to have well regulated e-waste management system. But there is no such mechanism in place,” he said
Regional Director, Pollution Control Board, Rafi Ahmed told The Kashmir Monitor that notices have been issued to various organizations generating e-waste, which include government departments, hospitals, educational institutes and banks.
“A prescribed format has been given to such organizations on how to collect and dispose of the e-waste based on guidelines. However, we are yet to receive any response,” he said.
Rafi also admitted that single dismantler is highly inadequate to treat the e-waste generated in the valley. “Once we have the figures on the amount of e-waste generated, we will identity the areas where the dismantlers are required,” he said.