Will Swach Bharat Abhiyan lead to e-swach Bharat Abhiyan in 2019?

Swach Bharat is an ambitious project. This campaign aims to accomplish the vision of a 'Clean India' by 2 October 2019, the 150th birthday of Mahatma

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3Swach Bharat is an ambitious project. This campaign aims to accomplish the vision of a ‘Clean India’ by 2 October 2019, the 150th birthday of Mahatma Gandhi. It is expected to cost over INR62000 crore (US$9.7 billion). The purpose of the article is not to discuss about Swach Bharat, it’s about the fact that the issue of e-waste is hardly given any mention in this project.

Important aspect about Swach Bharat Abhiyan is cleaning of roads and infrastructure and keeping our surrounding clean. The government has even encouraged the public including celebrity figures to participate in the challenge of cleaning the cities and posting the pictures online. We see a major issue here. A common man has no idea how to dispose off his e-waste and therefore collection is mostly done by the local kabadiwalas(scrap merchants), who are not properly trained in handling e-waste, which contains hazardous chemicals like mercury, bromine etc.

E-waste is a popular, informal name for electronic products nearing the end of their “useful life.” Computers, televisions, VCRs, stereos, copiers, and fax machines are common electronic products. Many of these products can be reused, refurbished, or recycled.

Do most of us even know what comes under e-waste, when was the last time you threw a SIM card or an old unused USB cable or wire into the dustbin?  Well that’s e-waste being disposed in a way that causes e-waste hazards to aggravate. Not only should the e-waste be disposed of separately but it should even be processed in scientific manner post the disposal stage.

Awareness about e-waste is minimal among general public but what about corporates? Considering the fact that e-waste implementation is part of the new rule by government to spend minimum 2% of profit on CSR we expected good results.1

The Green Team of Kshitij, a social initiative of SIIB conducted a secondary survey to understand the awareness level among the corporate. Sectors considered for the survey were IT, banking, manufacturing and telecom. Various companies in the particular sector were considered such as TCS and Infosys for IT sector, IDBI and ICICI in banking sector, ITC and Vodafone in manufacturing and telecom sector. As the survey was a secondary survey, only the websites and credible websites on the internet were considered to understand and gauge the e-waste awareness among the corporate. The results were surprisingly low. IT sector scored a 3.5(on 6), Manufacturing and telecom was better with 5.33, Banking sector scored a low 1.4.

While the real scenario can only be gauged by performing a primary survey, the secondary survey as an indicator does not give a very optimistic result for the e-waste campaign in India.

While there is much clamour on inclusion of e-waste policy implementation and awareness in India we certainly hope it happens in the future and there is no separate campaign to get rid of e-waste in future.


Organization Survey Team:

Gaurav Sabhahit, Satyabrata Mishra, Surabhi Mishra, Mohammad Salman