The price we pay for “progress

India generates about 18.5 lakh tonne electronic waste every year. This figure is expected to reach up to 30 lakh tonne per year by 2018. The government, public and private industries contribute over 70 percent of e-waste, while 15 percent comes from households. Out of the total e-waste generated, only 2.5 percent gets recycled.

Sectorwise share

Computer equipment (70 percent)
Telecommunication equipment (12 percent)
Electrical equipment (8 percent)
Medical equipment (7 percent).

This is the dark side of IT/ITES industry which grew exponentially from the 1990s onwards. The profit hunt of corporates led them to put up western restaurants and sprawling malls targeting the pockets of IT employees. But they failed or deliberately ignored to set up recycling of e-waste and passed the burden on to the general public.

The burden citywise

Mumbai – 1.2 lakh tonne
Delhi-NCR – 98,000 tonne
Bengaluru – 92,000 tonne
Chennai – 67,000 tonne
Kolkata – 55,000 tonne
Ahmedabad – 36,000 tonne
Hyderabad – 32,000 tonne
Pune – 26,000 tonne

In handling this e-waste, lives of young children are sacrificed. Over 95 percent of e-waste generated is managed by the unorganised sector and scrap dealers in this market. About 5 lakhs child labourers between the age group of 10-14 are supposedly engaged in various e-waste related activities, without adequate protection and safeguards in various yards and recycling workshops.

Are we not ashamed?

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