Toxic Trade News / 11 February 2009
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E-waste flowing on charity tag
by Ajay Kanth, Express Buzz
11 February 2009 (Kochi) – In the wake of Union Government’s ban on import of hazardous waste into the country, the US and the UK are resorting to charity routes to dump huge quantity of used computers and its peripherals in the country.

According to the latest data, around 600 tonnes of e-waste entered the country in the last six months under the guise of charitable purpose. It was estimated that the US alone exported nearly 70 percent of the e-waste to the country as donations to educational institutions.

Officials in the Customs Department said that the Cochin Port had been witnessing arrival of consignments of used computers from the US and UK as donations to the institutions in the state.

"Though we have a separate department to check each peripheral to ascertain whether it is in working condition or not, it is impossible to conduct a check considering the huge quantity in each consignment," the official said.Kerala Pollution Control Board member-secretary M D Jayaprasad said that certain legal loopholes were being exploited by the importers to bring in computer peripherals from the US and the UK under the guise of charity.

"So far we have not received any information from the Customs on the import of used computers and its peripherals to the state. We are ready to work in coordination with the Customs Department to check the arrival of e-waste into the state," he said.

He said that the PCB had issued a circular to all IT companies and institutions to submit a report on the number of computers used by them.

However, another official of the PCB said that there had been reports that the consignments arriving from the US and the UK contained large quantity of PC monitors, keyboards, mouse and cables. "There will be more number of key boards and mouse compared to the monitors.

Among this, more than 25 percent of them are non-functional. As a move to dump the e-waste, faulty pieces are deliberately included in the consignment," the official said.

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