ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) MNA Shahida Rehmani on Tuesday introduced a bill in the National Assembly seeking an amendment to the Pakistan Environment Protection Act 1997 regarding management of electronic waste.
MNA Rehmani sketched a gloomy picture during the National Assembly session, saying that an estimated 433 kilo tonnes of electronic waste was being generated in the country every year. She protested that numerous countries used countries like Pakistan, India and Bangladesh as dumping grounds for e-waste.
Introducing the bill, Shahida Rehmani elaborated that e-waste, such as computer parts, keyboards and monitors were dismantled to extract mercury, lead and cadmium as well as other ingredients to use in products of daily use.
“Worst, child labour is engaged in extracting these poisonous components. It is a highly hazardous environment in which children suffer health issues after coming into direct contact with these materials,” Shahida Rehmani said.
She also complained that mercury, lead and other materials made their way into the ground, eventually poisoning the aquifer.
The MNA registered a complaint with National Assembly Speaker Raja Pervez Ashraf, saying that the government did not have a plan for safe disposal of batteries from electric vehicles, mobile phones and solar systems.
In support of her amendment, the PPP MNA argued that the current Pakistan Environment Protection Act 1997 did not cover concerns such as electronic waste management or safe disposal of electric vehicle, mobile phones and batteries from solar systems. In response, Minister for Climate Change Sherry Rehman supported her colleague by saying that her concerns were genuine.
The Electric Vehicle Policy of the previous government did not take into consideration safe disposal of used batteries, she said, adding that, “there is a need to revisit the policy, especially when the government has shown commitment to energy transition by reducing dependence on fossil fuels and promoting use of renewable such as wind and solar power”.
She suggested to the National Assembly speaker to send the bill to the standing committee for further deliberations.
Pakistan is among the 175 nations that are signatory to the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their disposal. It is the most comprehensive global environmental agreement on hazardous waste. With nearly universal membership, the convention aims to protect human health and the environment against adverse effects resulting from the generation, transboundary movements and management of hazardous wastes including electronic wastes.
Published in Dawn, May 11th, 2022