Minister of State for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh announced in the Rajya Sabha on Monday that the government proposed to come out with a new set of rules for disposal of e-waste by May 15.

Minister of State for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh announced in the Rajya Sabha on Monday that the government proposed to come out with a new set of rules for disposal of e-waste by May 15.

“Disposal of e-waste is becoming an increasingly important challenge for the government. Therefore, there is a need to take more precautionary measures. We will have a separate set of rules for this by May 15,'' Mr. Ramesh informed the members during question hour.

Responding to a question on the issue and subsequent supplementaries, Mr. Ramesh said there were no separate regulations for the disposal of e-waste as this was governed by the rules relating to the disposal of hazardous waste. More importantly, some 85-90 per cent of e-waste disposal was done in the unorganised sector, in cities like Moradabad and slums like Dharavi over which the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) had no control. “The answer lies in bringing the unorganised sector into the formal sector. I myself have seen in Dharavi [Asia's largest slum in Mumbai] a flourishing recycling industry which no government has the courage to control as it will lead to an enormous loss of jobs.''

He said illegal recycling of used electronic goods such as mobile phone and computer posed environmental and health hazards. “I am personally against the import of second-hand computers in the name of charity as this ‘e-waste' posed danger to environment and human health.''

Computers, mobile phones and other electronic gadgets become e-waste at the end of their life cycle, he said. The government wanted to make the unorganised sector more organised in following pollution norms. The Centre and the State governments would provide 50 per cent of the funds for setting up facilities for treatment, storage and disposal of e-wastes.

On the issue of Cobalt-60 found in a scrap market here, he said it was a radioactive material not covered under the Hazardous Waste (Management, Handling and Trans-boundary Movement) Rules framed by MoEF. Radioactive waste was covered by the Atomic Energy Act, he said.

Mr. Ramesh said a survey carried out by the CPCB estimated that 1.47-lakh tonnes of e-waste was generated in the country in 2005, which was expected to increase to about 8-lakh tonnes by 2012. Besides, some 50,000 tonnes of e-waste was being illegally imported or dumped in the country, he said.