Sunday, September 28, 2008

The 'dump'ed economy

Garbage: This is one import India can really do without...

Recently there has been a new addition to India’s import catalogue. India, over the decades, has been importing almost everything ranging from simple products like sugar to complex and sophisticated technologies like space mission. Except, this new addition is neither expensive nor is a substance of importance and on the flip side, it is more of a perennial trouble and a perpetual liability.

A recent report confirms that a huge quantity of household wastes collected every week across Britain (under the pretext of recycling) is being shipped and dumped into India. Behind the veil of ‘go green and improve the environment’ campaign, UK Council is exporting its garbage to India by way of waste black market. The garbage export is much more economical and cheaper for it just costs them 40 pounds compared to 150 pounds if they were to process and re-cycle the same. The garbage included everything from cartons, newspapers, crisp packets to plastic bags.

But the point I wish to put forward is that the fault is not entirely that of UK as this recurring phenomenon (of import of garbage) is never checked by Indian authorities, thus eventually encouraging the developed economies to make a disorderly country like India, their litter bin.A few months ago about 180 tonnes of US waste was dumped in areas adjoining Coimbatore and an additional 1,000 tonnes is still rotting in Tuticorin port. It included everything from the debris of the World Trade Center (WTC) to the titanium wastes of the nuclear reactors. Not just UK and US, but even Japan exports around 300 tonnes of toxic waste,s including prohibited materials like zinc ash, lead acid battery wastes, poisonous PVC, around 500 tonnes of DDT and 20 tonnes of capacitor fluid containing banned chemicals. Shockingly almost 105 countries dump their various kinds of refuse and rubbish here. The trash ranges from waste products to hazardous e-waste and radio-active waste. As per research studies done by NEERI, there has been around 70 per cent growth in import of plastic and similar garbage in the name of recycling business. It must be noted that plastic takes millions of years to degrade. To make the matter worse, even domestically we produce an equal amount of waste. A month back, Maharashtra government used 42,000 litres of perfume (valued at $114,000) to get rid of the fetid stench coming out of land-fills. According to Supreme Court Monitoring Committee, about4.5 million tonnes of garbage is produced in India annually. Others estimate it to touch the figure of 5 million tonnes, wherein only 40 percent of such garbage can be recycled and rest 60 percent of it should be buried under the ground in scientific fashion. But then this sort of disposal rarely happens. Even then it's estimated that around Rs 3,000 crore is spent every year by different municipal bodies on disposal of garbage .

India still has not endorsed the Basel Convention which would have eventually forced it to modify domestic laws and stop this variant of immoral and treacherous trade. This flagrant violation still exists even after directives from Supreme Court. When the whole world is turning up in order to get rid of wastes and implement scientific and advanced waste management and waste conversion practices, India is still struggling to get its law in place. We are definitely getting the deserved treatment for, what else can we expect when we ourselves dump the waste into our neighbours’ backyards. And as it’s always said ‘charity begins at home’. So do waste management.


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