Chennai, India being used as e-waste dumping ground

As well as the factory of the world, China has also been a dumping ground, with old computer parts and other electronic waste piled high in some cases next to villages. And as India rushes to the top of the global technology space, is it starting to face a similar crisis?

India’s Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) has intercepted five huge containers of old computer parts being dumped illegally in Chennai in just two months. Altogether it has found 127 tonnes of e-waste, much of which contains nickel, mercury and lead and could be linked to environmental damage as well as health concerns for locals.

According to The Times of India, Chennai has become a favourite spot for areas which find it costly to dispose of or recycle electronic material – including Korea, Brunei, Australia and Canada. While the countries who flog off their old bits and pieces aren’t directly in the wrong, they must be in the know: they ship out their waste to importers which gets sold on to smaller companies, who harvest metals and dump the rest. In Chennai.

The most recent find by the DRI was from Brunei. It was declared as switch board scrap, but actually the container was full of garbage including 166 dead computer monitors, 89 control panels, broken printers and keyboards, circuit boards and electrical motor parts.

It’s clear that India and the DRI is serious about combating illegal waste dumping, but as the industry in the country rushes to be a major global contender which is growing every day – as well as the chequered past of corruption and bribery with top level officials – it could prove to be a real issue in-land as well as outsourced shipments from elsewhere.