Toxic lives

Children aged 8, 9 involved in e-waste segregation in Seelampur, Mustafabad, Moradabad

New Delhi, March 3

Children are engaged in dismantling and segregating e-waste at dumping yards for old electronic items in Seelampur and Mustafabad in Delhi and Moradabad in Uttar Pradesh, apex child right rights body NCPCR said in a fact-finding report.

The National Commission For Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) also recommended severe penalties for the violations.

The body said in its report that children as young as eight and nine were involved in detaching wires from television sets for 12 hours daily at the Mustafabad scrap market.

One such child was found segregating copper, iron, platinum, gold and other materials from e-waste (tubelights, laptops and mobiles), it said, adding that another child was seen segregating lithium from batteries in a shop.

"These children have to wash motherboards with acid so that platinum and other metals could be segregated. Also, it is burnt so that the hidden metal can be collected for selling. The children were seen engaged in segregating lithium from the batteries of these laptops," the report said.

"Thereafter, the lithium is sold to companies that make power banks," it stated, adding that the children are paid around Rs 200 a day for their efforts.

Most outdated mobile phones and laptops of Delhi-NCR are transported to Moradabad, and their motherboard, batteries and screens are dismantled there, the report said.

It added that children aged 12 to 14 were engaged in the mobile dismantling, and they earn around Rs 8,000-10,000 per month for the work.

"These children also dismantle mobile phones. They are pushed into such work at the cost of their health. People of this area don't allow outsiders to come into the area as they are aware of the laws related to children and that it is an offence to engage children in hazardous occupations like e-waste dismantling," the report said.

The NCPCR recommended penal action against those engaging the children in such hazardous activities. It also suggested a third-party monitoring mechanism for assessing the implementation of E-Waste (Management) Rules, 2015.

Taking suo motu cognisance of these cases, the NCPCR has written to the sub-divisional magistrates concerned, the deputy labour commissioner, the Child Welfare Committee, and ChildLine to immediately rescue the children and take appropriate action as per the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015, the Child and Adolescent Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986, the Bonded Labour Abolition Act, 1976, and sections 16 and 17 of the Immoral Traffic Prevention Act, 1986. PTI

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