India’s Largest  E-waste Graveyard  By Faisal Magray India is emerging as one of the world’s major electronic waste generators and accounts...

India’s Largest  E-waste Graveyard 

By Faisal Magray

India is emerging as one of the world’s major electronic waste generators and accounts for scrapping 70% of the World’s e-waste. Seelampur, a small city is one such market for e-waste in India is situated 15 kilometers in East Delhi.

According to a study on ‘Electronic Waste Management in India,’ conducted by ASSOCHAM–cKinetics joint study on ‘World Environment Day’- by 2018, the global volume of e-waste generated is expected to reach 130 million tons from 93.5 million tons in 2016 at a compound annual growth rate of 17.6% from 2016 to 2018.

Seelampur is the largest e-waste dismantling hub in India. Seelampur has the distinction of having more than 3000 small and big shops for scrapping e waste. E-waste is one of the largest and yet an unorganized sector in India. It provides employment to more than one lakh people. E-waste market in Seelampur, alone, provides bread and butter to more than thirty thousand people.

Gadgets discarded by India's 1.2 billion people accounts for much of the e-waste processed in Delhi but there's concern a growing amount is arriving from other countries, particularly Western nations like Australia. A 2014 report by peak business group, the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham), said Delhi "is emerging as the world's dumping yard for e-waste". The discarded computer monitors, motherboards, cathode ray tubes, printed circuit board, mobile phones and chargers, compact discs, headphones, white goods such as plasma televisions, air conditioners, and refrigerators constitutes e-waste.

Each truck carries around 10 tonnes of e-waste which enters into Seelampur e-waste market. Most of the people working in these shops and godowns are teenagers. Most of the poor teenage population of Seelampur does not go to school but work in these shops and earn Rs 200 per day. However, the  workers suggest that there work is just limited to segregation and after that the waste is taken to the jungles near Lucknow. They usually segregate copper from the plastic material.

E-waste includes all electronic items which in turns contain toxic elements like mercury, lead and cadmium. Since, putting this waste in landfills is very expensive and bury them below the ground is harmful for the environment, people generally opt for e-waste. Moreover, these e wastes contain some radioactive substance which can prove harmful to the workers. Around 4-5 years back, Seelampur came into the headlines because of deaths caused by radioactive elements. In 2010, a scrap dealer died due to exposure of radioactive radiations when 60 Cobalt pencils were found in the scrap materials.

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