Legal collection centres end up selling e-waste to same scrap dealers who were not meant to get it in the first place.

Nineteen-year-old Mohammad Salman Mansoori has spent much of the last four years inside a tiny concrete room, hammering the plastic, copper and other pieces off chunks of electronic waste to separate what can be resold.

His workspace in Delhi, about 150 square feet, was piled up to the ceiling with white and brown satchels, each containing hard drives that had come in from all over the world.

Mansoori sat cross-legged on the floor, with three other boys — aged 12, 16 and 18 – giggling while they used hammers to break the cases and remove the discs and other components. Tiny screws and shards of copper were flying.

“These will be made into kitchen utensils,” Mansoori told Al Jazeera in Hindi, as he tossed a steel piece into a toppling pile. Mansoori, who makes a couple of dollars a day for stripping about 1,000 gadgets, says he and his young colleagues are concerned because their workload has been dwindling.

“We are getting less and less,” he said.

Delhi’s pollution control officials have for the last couple of years tried to clamp down on the dangerous and illegal trade of dismantling and reselling electronic waste within the capital.

They have licensed and promoted about 15 legitimate collection centres to intercept electronic waste and prevent it going to the informal sector. The government’s efforts are endangering the income of thousands of people like Mansoori who have no other means of livelihood. Read more