The National Green Tribunal has directed the CPCB (Central Pollution Control Board) to place a review and 'action taken' report for ensuring enforcement of E-Waste (Management) Rules, 2016 and the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 ('EW Rules') by 31st January, 2020.
The order was passed by the Principal Bench while considering a plea for remedial action against unscientific disposal of e-waste resulting in contamination of ground water and soil acidification.
According to the petitioner Shailendra Singh, the e-waste (EW) is responsible for 40% of lead and 70% of heavy metals found in landfills.
After considering various reports regarding the toxicity of e-waste and report of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India, NGT had directed the MoEF&CC (Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change), UPPCB (Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board) and the CPCB to prepare an action plan to ensure enforcement of EW Rules and file a compliance report.
The compliance report by MoEF&CC dated 14th December, 2018 showed that India is the fifth largest producer of e-waste, with the largest e-waste generating cities being Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai and Kolkata. India produced two million tonnes of e-waste in 2016. The 95% of e-waste is recycled by the informal sector and only 5% is recycled by the formal sector. The report also brought to light that scrap dealers collect the e-waste and dispose of the same in an unscientific manner such as burning, dissolving in acids and leaching.
As per the Ministry's report, E-waste (Management and Handling) Rules were framed in 2012, which required the producers of electrical and electronic equipment to obtain authorisation from SPCB (State Pollution Control Board) or Pollution Control Committees (PCCs) for implementing their EPR (Extended Producer's Responsibility) for effective channelization of e-waste to registered dismantlers or recyclers.
The CPCB, as per directions of the NGT, had proposed a sanctioned plan with a definite time frame after identifying certain challenges such as inventorization of e-waste generation, identification of producers who have not obtained EPR Authorisation and checking of informal trading, dismantling, and recycling of e-waste.
After consideration of CPCB's Action Plan, the Principal Bench directed the CPCB to clearly spell out parameters of compliance and methodology to review by developing an appropriate software. Report of review developed for the compliance of continuous activities of Action Plan for enforcement of e-waste, was filed on 28th August, 2019, stating that the draft parameters and methodologies were circulated to the SPCBs and PCCs.
The Tribunal was informed that once inventorisation of e-waste generation is completed by December, 2019, from 2020 onwards the compliance will be as per the timelines prescribed under the Rules. Furthermore, the CPCB also informed NGT that it has developed a mechanism to identify the facilitators of the challenges identified under the 'Action Plan'. With regard to increasing awareness as well as strengthening the enforcement of the rules, the SPCBs and PCCs are to take necessary action, which is to be reviewed by the CPCB.
The NGT on taking note of the above developments, directed CPCB to place the next review and action taken report 31.01.2020, and also directed the Board to workout a mechanism for recovering compensation for delay in compliance as well as the violations.