For just £2 a day, Children put their blood and sweat in India’s Biggest e-waste graveyard at Seelampur

E-waste is one of the largest and yet an unorganized sector in India and provides employment to more than 1 lakh people

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A child surrounded by e-waste. Image source: www.greenpeace.org
  • India accounts for scrapping 70 percent of the World’s e-waste
  • E-waste comprise of all sort of electronic items which contains toxic elements like mercury, lead and cadmium
  • Attero recycling is the only company having a license to import e-waste

India is emerging as one of the world’s major electronic waste generators and accounts for scrapping 70% of the World’s e-waste. Seelampur, a small city is one such market for e-waste in India is situated 15 kilometers in East Delhi.

According to a study on ‘Electronic Waste Management in India,’ conducted by ASSOCHAM–cKinetics joint study on ‘World Environment Day’- by 2018, the global volume of e-waste generated is expected to reach 130 million tons from 93.5 million tons in 2016 at a compound annual growth rate of 17.6% from 2016 to 2018, said the business-standard.com report.
E-waste shop. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
E-waste shop. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Seelampur is the largest e-waste dismantling hub in India. Seelampur has the distinction of having more than 3000 small and big shops for scrapping e waste. E-waste is one of the largest and yet an unorganized sector in India. It provides employment to more than one lakh people. E-waste market in Seelampur, alone, provides bread and butter to more than thirty thousand people.

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According to a NGO report, India itself produces around 4 lakh tonnes of electronic waste and illegally imports fifty thousand tonnes of e-waste through various developed and developing countries like USA, South Korea, Australia and various other countries of Europe. However, Attero recycling is the only company having a license to import e-wastes.

People working in e-waste. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
People working in e-waste. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Each truck carries around 10 tonnes of e-waste which enters into Seelampur e-waste market. Most of the people working in these shops and godowns are teenagers. Most of the poor teenage population of Seelampur does not go to school but work in these shops and earn Rs 200 per day.

However, the  workers suggest that there work is just limited to segregation and after that the waste is taken to the jungles near Lucknow. They usually segregate copper from the plastic material.

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Teenage working in e-waste shop. Image Source: www.cseindia.org
Teenage working in e-waste shop. Image Source: www.cseindia.org

E-waste includes all electronic items which in turns contain toxic elements like mercury, lead and cadmium. Since, putting this waste in landfills is very expensive and bury them below the ground is harmful for the environment, people generally opt for e-waste.

Moreover, these e wastes contain some radioactive substance which can prove harmful to the workers. Around 4-5 years back, Seelampur came into the headlines because of deaths caused by radioactive elements.

In 2010, a scrap dealer died due to exposure of radioactive radiations when 60 Cobalt pencils were found in the scrap materials.

-This report is compiled by a staff-writer at NewsGram.

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  • AJ Krish

    These toxic substances need a proper disposal system as India itself produces around 4 lakh tonnes of electronic waste.

  • AdamMinter

    The picture atop this article was taken in 2001. In China. Do you think it accurately portrays the current situation in India? Because I regularly travel to e-waste zones in both countries, and I can tell you that it had little do with what happened in them in 2001, or today. But don’t let that get in the way of sensationalizing, I guess. Way to go.