Telecom operators have sought an extension of one year to implement e-waste rules, as notified by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MOEFCC) in November 2022. These rules have become effective since April 1, 2023.
According to a letter by the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) to MOEFCC, the Department of Telecommunications should have been consulted during the formation of these rules to understand the impact it will have on the business and national network operations.
The COAI further stated that network deployment requires operators to constantly plan, calibrate and upgrade their networks to address varied requirements of urban and rural environments. They added that 0.75 million telecom towers already exist across the country and end-user equipment is deployed at nearly 100 million customers homes. The e-waste rules were set to make sure that all the companies in the electronics ecosystem collect and dispose their e-waste in a safe manner. These rules were first notified in 2016 only to be replaced by newer rules. The letter requested for a separate category for electronic products deployed in telecom networks and the rules be reinstated on April 1, 2024.