Solid Waste Pollution, India
By Aman Habib
It is only a matter of time for the overpopulation in India to crowd any open area with garbage. Solid Waste Pollution is a major environmental issue in my area, affecting both urban and rural areas of this massive country. You can walk whichever street you want to but coping with the huge pile of garbage dumped here is something that each of us should go through. Even as I travel through the highway in my area, I’d still see a large amount of garbage on the sides, piled up in great heights on every few kilometers that I cover. It’s not only the sickening sight that causes the distress but the intense foul smell that it produces makes us all turn off the air conditioning while passing through.
When jawing about Solid Waste Pollution in my area, I’m looking at big numbers. This means that all the dumped trash, filth, and litter that we’ve piled up in every corner adds up to over a whopping 100 million tons a year. Frankly, there has not been a single corner in my area that I’ve seen without a pile of solid waste. Be it streets, public places, sidewalks, highways, rivers, and canals, people will dump garbage wherever they feel opportune. Sinking into the facts, 70% of the 100 million tons of solid waste are collected. But what depressing is how the country fails to manage this major issue as only about 20% of what’s collected is actually treated. This leaves the rest of the 50% of collected waste to remain in landfills, and the remaining 30% of garbage lying wherever they were left in the first place.
It is verifiable that my country is a failure in waste management. Although there have been orders by the Supreme Court to implement an all-embracing waste management system back in 2000, the orders were left to rotten just like the disgusting corners that every Indian sees today. In my area, we have a landfill in Ghazipur known as India’s tallest garbage mountain. As of now, it’s estimated to be over 65 meters high, spreading over the size of 40 soccer fields! It is predicted to go taller than 73 meters later in 2020. By far, all waste-management methods in the country have proven to fail because of the unmonitored authorities. And in 2020, even though we’ve advanced a lot in every aspect, the country still cannot come up with a better way of waste management other than landfills and this is why landfills are now becoming a threat to the environment and sustainability.
Most landfills we have are big. As it’s easier collecting waste and dumping it away from the people, we have not even bothered to consider another way of waste management. The waste in the huge piling of landfills enters the groundwater and pollutes the land. Also, when the landfills seem too big to contain anymore, the authorities themselves in my area burns the waste, producing toxic gases and polluting the air. This once has become a major risk to the health of people living nearby India’s biggest landfill and residents within 5kms were forced to leave the land. Apart from all the trouble that we went through, the landfill collapsed in 2017 and resulted in killing two of the workers. When looking into reasons for such solid waste pollution, what bases the cause is the country’s poor waste management system and the overpopulation that it really cannot control. And the words by Chitra Mukherjee, the head of Advocacy and Policy in Chintan, backs up the reasons when she said “as you earn more and more, as your economy booms, you are definitely going to buy more stuff. As you buy more stuff, you’re going to waste more stuff, you’re going to throw away more stuff.”
The diseases that such amount of Solid Waste Pollution spreads in urban and rural areas never decreases. The increasing landfills have become notable sources for greenhouse emissions. They also house breeding sites for flies, mosquitoes, cockroaches, rats, and other pests, increasing the risk of spreading diseases. The problems just keep on climbing the numbers year by year and that’s a depressing stat to look into. An initiative by Chintan in 2013 resulted in a mobile application that connects waste generators with waste recyclers, which, by far, has been the most successful addition in helping to resolve this major issue. But still, that’s only solving some part of the nationwide issue and there’s still a long way to go to catch up with the huge numbers that we’re seeing today. Although the government can make a huge impact in the solving part of Solid Waste Pollution in India, the individuals, like you and me, still have a part in its cause as well as trying to resolve the problem. At this moment, I’m honored for having this opportunity to type down about this issue from my perspective. And if the able individuals like me can share their opinions and raise a voice, it wouldn’t take long for us to reach those in higher power and drive them to produce a movement in this major issue that’s badly influencing the people, the nation, and the globe.
Thanks for reading!