Is the index of environment consciousness on the rise in Calcutta'
So it seems, given the emerging attitude towards computers and mobile phones. Researchers, industry representatives and other experts have woken up to the waste potential of these items, which have ensconced themselves as an integral part of urban lifestyle.
The speakers at a national symposium, organised by Jadavpur University and Centre for Quality Management System on Thursday, drew a grim scenario befalling the environment if a proper mechanism is not evolved to dispose of the e-waste.
According to Sadhan Ghosh, principal investigator in a research project launched by the Centre, around 1,000 computers and 1,400 mobile phones are thrown away daily across the country, leading to around 7,000 tonnes of e-waste.
'Within two years, the estimated mobilephone waste in Calcutta alone will be more than 60 tonnes,' he warned.
Sharing the concern, urban development minister Asok Bhattacharya conceded that 'the problem of e-waste management can assume disastrous proportions in our country, like what has happened in the West'.
Technology, he added, has to be kept under constant public vigil. 'You have to force green issues on the agenda of political parties, trade unions and mass organisations. Go to Kanchrapara, not New York, if you want to see how public participation can drastically change the environment.'
Kanchrapara, on the northern fringe of the Calcutta Metropolitan Area, has changed itself from a district town overflowing with waste to one of the cleanest cities in the state, courtesy a model devised by environmentalist Dhrubojyoti Ghosh.
Outlining the extent of damage posed by e-waste, Jadavpur University's vice-chancellor A.N. Basu quoted an expert as having said: 'During the last decade, the growth of per capita personal computers in India has been 600 per cent, next to China (1,052) and way above the world average of 181.'
B.R. Naidu, zonal officer of Central Pollution Control Board, admitted that 'e-management in the country is yet to reach even its infancy'.
'Bengal can pioneer an effective model of e-waste management as it is the only state where the same person dons the hat of a generator as well as a regulator,' he added.
The reference was to minister Manab Mukherjee, who is in charge of both the IT department (generator) and the environment department (regulator).
Those who attended the proceedings said the recommendations being churned out of the seminar would form the cornerstone of an e-waste management protocol.