Toxic fumes from e-waste in Pakistani villages have become a major environmental and health hazard. Mostly pure people from the villages burn these e-waste products, those computers, devices and gadgets that have been discarded irresponsibly by the users and various companies. In Pakistan, there said to exist a secret, in words illegal, e-waste recycling cottage industry that has been recently reported several times. The attention of the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) toward the drastic situation these toxic fumes lead to must be focused on solving the issue as they are part of the market.
At a recent conference held in Zurich on ICT for Sustainability, the e-waste in Pakistan was highlighted. However, there is no doubt that the ICT industry must work with the government of Pakistan to plan safe measures. But before any cooperation can begin, the government itself will have to take the responsible step of realization and stop ignoring the matter.
Governance is not just about forming ministers and touring around giving speeches of policies good for the people, but rather governance is actually in implementing the policies on the ground. On paper everything looks ready, but in the case of e-waste, that is not even the case, since Pakistan’s government is yet to realize this secretive mafia working in the e-waste recycling business.
The workers which are mostly from the villages get paid around $2.70 per day and for them it is a living. But for the government, it should be a problem due to the dangers it poses not only for the workers exposed to such toxicity but also the threat to the environment. Often the problems that Pakistan is facing are discussed at international forums by foreign academics, because conducting case-studies is part of their work. But no heed is paid here in Pakistan where the problem really lies.
It is said that e-waste comes to Pakistan from around the world, but however, the experts don’t believe in stopping that from happening. Rather, they want something done about handling this e-waste from around the globe. The discarded gadgets, which are deemed unworthy by consumers from the first-world countries, are often made into use again, but once they are done at this stage, they become a complete e-waste.
But this is where the livelihood of many who are involved in burning this e-waste comes in. Never the less, the government must provide for the health standards that workers can’t afford and check on those who are secretly involved in making money at the expense of innocent lives on top of threatening the natural environment.