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The Centre is yet to come up with guidelines to deal with safe recycling and disposal of e-waste

India doesn't know what to do with the e-waste apart from making a business of it. There are no guidelines for recycling and disposal and, clearly, e-waste is the next story in pollution. The e-waste problem has already reached mammoth proportions and it doesn't help that the central government is yet to come up with guidelines to deal with its safe recycling and disposal.

Delhi and Mumbai are the two main hubs where e-waste is recycled in the country. Delhi alone accounts for more than half of the 4 lakh metric tonnes of e-waste produced annually. Despite this, the three recycling plants that have been set up around the Capital with a capacity of over 50, 000 metric tonnes are not able to operate to capacity.

E-waste covers all waste from electronic and electrical appliances and includes computers, mobile phones, airconditioners, refrigerators and other household appliances.

Delhi's environment department says it does not have an estimate of how much e-waste is produced in Delhi or how much, if any, is brought into the city for recycling. Instead, they say most of it is actually taken out to places like Muzzafarnagar and Meerut for recycling and in Delhi only the dismantling is done.

In Delhi, eastern parts of the city like Mandawali are the epicentres of e-waste recycling. In fact, so profitable is the work that people actually buy waste from as far as Bangalore and bring it to Delhi for disposal. However, since most of this is in the unorganised sector, the dismantling and recycling of the waste causes major environment pollution.

"We had received about 40 quotations for setting up e-waste recycling facilities in the city. Unfortunately, we were unable to provide them with land for this. We are hoping that the three recycling plants that have been set up around Delhi, two in UP and one in Haryana, are able to take care of this problem for us, " says an official.

Those might be great expectations, but till the government comes up with a collection mechanism, nothing is likely to work. The situation is such that the plant set up in Roorkie sought and was given permission to import 8, 000 MT of e-waste from the UK and US, a move that was sharply criticised by environment groups.

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