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IANS

The National Green Tribunal has directed all the state Pollution Control Boards and Pollution Control Committees to file status reports on operation of e-waste recycling industries causing environmental degradation and health hazards in their areas.

Asking the states to hold an online interaction in the issue and submit a consolidated report by the next hearing on May 27, the NGT bench, headed by Chairperson Adarsh Kumar Goel, also directed the Central Pollution Control Board to particularly ascertain compliance status in Delhi and Uttar Pradesh in light of earlier orders.

The bench was dealing with a grievance against the burning of E-waste in Sarurpur Industrial Area, Faridabad, Haryana by various engineering companies.

As per the plea, nearly 100-200 "Red category" and highly polluting units are illegally operating in the Sarurpur Industrial area which burns approximately 40-50 tons of E-Waste daily which has made the environment of the region toxic.

The magnitude of air pollution is such that the visibility up to 2-3 kilometres is affected, it pointed out. These units collect the leftover ash from the E-waste after it is burnt and load them in the tractors and tippers which take this ash and dump un-scientifically in the open area and landfills, which proves to be a threat to the environment.

People residing in nearby colonies and areas are facing devastating impacts on their health and on the city's environment. Around 10-15 people residing in the area have also lost their eye vision due to the toxic air pollutants released in the air by the burning of E-waste. E-waste contains lead, cadmium, mercury, polyvinyl chloride (PVC), brominated flame retardants (BFRs), chromium, beryllium, etc Long term exposure to these substances damages the nervous system, kidney, bones, and the reproductive and endocrine systems, the plea read. Considering the complaint, the NGT in the order dated February 4, said the activity of unscientific handling and disposal of e-waste is a hazardous activity having the potential for serious damage to public health and the environment.

It also noted that handlers are mostly illiterate and unskilled people for financial gain by high-scale operators without concern for their safety. There is an undoubted need for continuous vigilance in view of huge gaps in compliance with the Rules noticed earlier.

The statutory Rules provide for specific responsibilities of manufacturers and handlers of such waste as well as remedial action by the statutory regulators but on account of lack of compliance, a large number of accidents take place resulting in death and diseases. This aspect needs to be considered in light of the facts on the ground in the present case, the green court observed.

Further, the tribunal also constituted a four-member joint Committee comprising Member Secretary, State PCB, CPCB, District Magistrate, Faridabad and Commissioner, Municipal Corporation to undertake a visit to the site, directing the joint panel to file its findings in a month.

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