New Delhi: Noting that more than 95% of the electronic waste generated in India is handled by the informal recyclers posing a serious threat to the environment, a parliamentary committee has recommended to the central government to bring a separate legislation on e-waste instead of handling it under the Environment Protection Act 1986.

The committee on subordinate legislation presented its report on e-waste management in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday.

It noted that the electronics and appliances industry in the country would reach $400 billion by 2020 and in order to absorb this growth, India would generate enormous electronic waste.

During the last decade itself, there has been a huge increase in e-waste generation across the world including India. According to estimates of the Central Pollution Control Board’s (CPCB)—which is India’s apex pollution watchdog—146,800 metric tons (MT) of e-waste was generated in India in the year 2005 which increased to an estimated 800,000 MT by 2012 and to 1.64 million MT by 2014.

It expressed concern that the quantum of e-waste is likely to assume alarming proportions in India in the coming years, posing a serious threat to the environment.

The panel headed by Dilipkumar Mansukhlal Gandhi stressed that unlike the management and handling of other environmental pollution areas concerning air, water, hazardous waste, the management, handling and recycling of e-waste is a highly specialized field which requires high level of technical knowledge, expertise and sufficiently skilled manpower.

“Moreover, the CPCB and the State Pollution Control Boards, which have been assigned a major role in implementation of e-waste handling rules, neither possess the skilled manpower nor the technical expertise on various aspects of e-waste … the committee are anguished to find that there is no independent and effective legislative framework to tackle the growing menace of e-waste," the panel said.

“The committee, therefore, are of the considered view that in order to tackle the issue of e-waste handling and management in any effective and meaningful manner, the government may consider the desirability of bringing a separate legislation on e-waste instead of handling it under the Environment Protection Act," it recommended.

The panel stated that such legislation may call for establishing a central authority or a central public sector undertaking having experts from IT field and other technical domains possessing knowledge of e-waste disposal, management and recycling techniques and its own e-waste collection centre/ recycling plants with state-of-art technologies, in all major cities of the country.

It stated that the law should make it mandatory that the e-waste generated from various government departments all over the country as well as by entities and individuals, big or small industrial houses, educational institutions shall be deposited at the designated collection centres.

The panel noted that in their view, “if a government body is entrusted with this job it will be done in a methodical and safe manner and will ensure that e-waste does not create environmental pollution".

It asked the government to inform about action taken on the recommendation within three months.

The panel also noted that the present setup of management of e-waste under the Environment Protection Act, 1986 and the rules framed there under have failed to yield any tangible results.

The Union environment ministry in March 2016 had notified the E-Waste Management Rules 2016 replacing the 2011 version. The new rules bring producers under the extended producer responsibility (EPR) concept and also have provision for financial penalty for damage caused to ecology and any third party due to improper management of e-waste. EPR in waste management aims to include the environmental costs associated with goods throughout their lifecycle into the prices of products.

Also Read: Producers responsible for collection of e-waste: government

It also strongly emphasised that e-waste management should be incorporated in the curriculum in schools and colleges so that future generations are sensitised to e-waste management practices.

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