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India’s e-waste output rises eight times in seven years

India’s output of electronic waste has shot up eight times over the course of the last seven years, with the illegal yet still open incineration of such waste having the potential to cause serious hazards to public health, according to a new government report.

The Union Ministry of Environment and Forest’s latest annual report states that by the end of this year India will have created as much as eight lakh tons of electronic waste, up eight times in the last seven years.  Environmentalists have also drawn attention to the fact that an extra 50,000 tons of electronic waste is imported from the developed world even with a supposed ban. “The burning of metals can give rise to dioxins and furans during incineration,” the report states.  “Arsenic and asbestos may act as a catalyst to increase the formation of dioxins, which is carcinogenic in nature.”

Electronic waste includes standard household electronic appliances as well as the likes of toys, IT and telecom equipment, automatic dispensers, medical devices, monitoring and control instruments and old cell phones.  Top of the list of the cities that generate the most electronic waste is Mumbai, followed closely by Delhi and Bangalore, among others.  “E-waste contains minerals that are both toxic and valuable to the industry,” the report continues.  “Heavy metals are harmful to the environment and pose grave health hazards.”

Last year new rules were introduced in India to make manufacturers responsible for the collecting and recycling of electronic products that are at the end of their life.