The Information Technology revolution has brought many blessings and one major curse—burgeoning e-waste. Electronic devices such as computers, servers, mainframes, monitors, TVs and telecommunication devices are dumped by most users once they go out of fashion. The piling up of e-waste has become alarming in India too.
The country generates about 1.5 lakh tonnes of e-waste annually and almost all of it finds its way into the informal sector, as there is no organised system to dispose of it. Metropolitan cities such as Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru and Hyderabad, which have a large IT sector, are at higher risk of environmental pollution from e-waste.
According to the study conducted by the NGO, Toxic Link, Mumbai faces grave health and environmental risks because of the dumping of 19,000 tonnes of e-waste. Similarly, a study by the Chittaranjan National Cancer Institute of Kolkata found that people in Delhi are about twice as likely to suffer from lung ailments because of the presence of high amount of e-waste. Bangalore generates 15,000 tonnes of e-waste every month.
Hazardous substances found in e-waste include lead, cadmium, chromium and flame-retardant plastics. Inhaling or handling such substances or being in contact with them on a regular basis can damage the brain, nervous system, lungs, kidneys and the reproductive system.