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UGC asked colleges and universities to raise awareness on Health Hazards of E-Waste

UGC asked colleges and universities to raise awareness on Health Hazards of E-Waste. UGC sent the letters to the Vice-Chancellors and has requested to convey the same to affiliated colleges and institutes.

E-waste management is a critical issue crippling our nation. As if that wasn’t enough, we’re bogged down by yet another challenge – e-waste treatment. About 95 percent of electronic waste in India is treated and processed in urban slums, where untrained workers carry out practices unsafe for human and environmental health.

Lack of awareness among various stakeholders about the ill effects of the end-of-life products (e-waste) is a major concern. In order to reduce the adverse impact on environment and health due to the polluting technologies, used in the unorganized sector for recycling e-waste there is a need to initiate the sustained mechanism to create awareness.

“About 72% of the handlers did not know the meaning of electronic waste and 71% were not aware of associated health risks, 85% did not use any protective gears, while 16% acknowledged health issues attributed to improper handling of e-waste, 77% felt their handling of e-waste was appropriate. Majority of center owners felt that informal e-waste handling does not pose any health risks, and reported that there was no awareness campaign by any agency as of then.”

Seeing the need for awareness campaigns on proper e-waste management practices to ensure occupational safety among the waste handlers who belong to lower socio-economic strata, UGC has issued a letter to all Higher Educational Institutes and urged them to educate students about the ill effects of the end-of-life products (e-waste).

UGC, in the letter, said,” there is a need to initiate the sustained mechanism to create awareness in order to reduce the adverse impact on environment and health due to the polluting technologies used in the unorganized sector for recycling e-waste.”

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) had initiated an awareness programme in 2015. The ‘Awareness Program on Environmental hazards of Electronic Waste’ was initiated through Software Technology Parks of India (STPI) under ‘Digital India Initiative’.

The Scheme aims to provide financial support to MeitY’s Societies, Academic Institutions, Industry Associations and professional organisations for organizing workshops/ seminars for schools/ colleges/ Resident Welfare Associations (RWAs)/ Bulk Consumers/ Regulatory bodies, media engagement etc. and making campaign material for wide circulation on ill-effects associated with e-waste. Besides awareness, the programme would also undertake inventory study for estimation of the quantum of e-waste in few selected cities.

The said program provides training, tools, content material, films, and printed material for organizing awareness program and for inventory study of quantum e-waste.

UGC has requested all Higher Education Institutes to make use of the content available and raise awareness among students about the health hazards of e-waste, best practices for environmentally safe recycling and the related rules/regulations in the country. The content is available on the www.greene.gov.in website.

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