Ensure scientific management of e-waste, environmental crimes as serious as assault: NGT to CPCB

The green panel said that CPCB needs to update the status periodically at least once in six months and issue appropriate directions in the light of the reports received.

The National Green Tribunal directed the CPCB on Monday to ensure scientific management of e-waste saying environmental crimes are as serious as cases of assaults and there was governance deficit on the issue.

A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice A K Goel said there were huge gaps in compliance of e-waste rules and higher authorities were not adequately concerned about the plight of the citizens.

“The reports by CPCB (Central Pollution Control Board) and others show the magnitude of problem. There are huge gaps in compliance of rules which are being more held in breach than observance showing the authorities charged with the obligation of ensuring pollution free environment in poor light. “There are clear governance deficits on the subject and higher authorities are not adequately concerned about the plight of the citizens on account of such serious violations to the detriment of health of the citizens,” the bench said.

Environmental crimes are as serious, if not more, as cases of assaults but there is no adequate action , the tribunal said.

The NGT said that coordinated approach is required but unless there is monitoring at higher levels and leadership is provided, leaving the matter to lower levels or issuing paper directions cannot result in improvement of the situation. “Unfortunately, it appears that violation of environmental law is not the priority. Such neglect can prove very costly. “For petty benefit of retrieving metals poor labour class is engaged in burning electronic wires or other wastes to the detriment of their own health and also the health of others which is not being duly checked by creating awareness,” the bench said.

The green panel said that CPCB needs to update the status periodically at least once in six months and issue appropriate directions in the light of the reports received. “The CPCB may consider steps for compliance of Rule 16 requiring reduction in the use of Hazardous substances in the manufacture of electrical and electronic equipment and their components or consumables or parts or spares,” the bench said.

The tribunal took note that large number of accidents take place in residential areas on account of unscientific handling of e-waste. “This needs special attention for constant vigilance in such hot spots. This also requires review and updation of siting norms for e-waste by the CPCB which may be done within three months,” it said.

The NGT accepted the recommendations of the Oversight Committee, formed by it, for the State of UP and directed the state pollution control board to ensure in setting up of treatment, Storage, and Disposal Facilities.

“The e-waste on the bank of Ramganga may be duly shifted in an environmentally sound manner. Banks of river Ramganga should be cleaned and no deposition of e-waste/black powder observed.

With regard to the national capital, the NGT directed the Delhi Pollution Control Committee to continue further efforts in coordination with the concerned Authorities including Delhi Police and East Delhi Municipal Corporation for e-waste management.

“All the state pollution control boards need to identify the hotspots by constant vigil and to coordinate with the District Administration at local levels to prevent damage to the environment and public health and meaningful enforcement of rule of law,” the bench said.

The tribunal was hearing a bunch of petitions against unscientific disposal of e-waste resulting in contamination of ground water and soil acidification.

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