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Mumbai chips in to clear e-waste

Pune: Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad are among the top 10 cities in the country which account for the generation of electronic waste (e-waste). But even though the two cities generated 3,616 tonnes of e-waste during 2006-07, they have largely escaped its harmful impact and the allied waste disposal problems, thanks to Mumbai.


“All e-waste from Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad is transported to Mumbai for dismantling and further supply to Delhi,” says a report prepared by the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB). E-waste relates to electronic junk in the form of discarded television sets, personal computers, cell phones, refrigerators and other such goods.

As per the national Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) assessment study, the state capital (New Mumbai included) generated 11,663 tonnes of e-waste, the highest in the country, in the last year. This prompted the MPCB to undertake a survey to assess the e-waste in three cities — Mumbai, Pune and the Pimpri-Chinchwad township.

The report, finalised in March this year, states that ewaste generation in Maharashtra stands at 20,270.6 tonnes. Of this, Navi Mumbai contributes 646.48 tonnes, greater Mumbai 11,017.06 tonnes, Pune 2,584.21 and Pimpri-Chinchwad 1,032.37 tonnes.

However, a very small amount of dismantling activity occurs in Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad. Chikhali in Pimpri-Chinchwad acts as a major hub for the collection, transportation and trading of e-waste to Mumbai. The adjoining areas in PCMC like Kuddalwadi, Pawarwasti, Jadhavwadi and Moshi act as a sub-hub for ewaste collection. As for the physical extraction of copper wire from cables, that takes place at Moshi village, the report says. Also, the dismantling of ewaste is carried out in a halfhearted manner. Most of the dismantling activity in Pune, Pimpri Chinchwad and even in Mumbai involves physical dismantling by hammer, chisel, screw driver and bare hands.

“The most high- tech piece of dismantling equipment witnessed was an electric drill,” the MPCB team has said in the report. “No de-soldering activity takes place here. Gold recovery, which is possible from the contacts on motherboards, is not practised in the market in Mumbai and Pune.” Pune’s e-waste is transported from Chikhali to areas like Lamington Road, Chor Bazaar and Bhindi Bazaar in Mumbai, which have a strong metal and electronics scrap market. There, defunct electrical and electronic equipment such as household appliances, pumps, motors and metal components are sold at bargain rates.

What is e-waste?
E-waste is generated through discarded television sets, personal computers, cell phones, refrigerators and other electronic goods. It contains a mix of toxic substances such as lead, cadmium, lead oxide, mercury. polychlorinated biphenyls and brominated flame retardants on printed circuit boards. Disposing and recycling e-waste poses serious legal and environmental implications.


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