Environmental concerns that concern everybody
There are so many glaring environmental issues faced by India today, it’s probably hard to single out just one as being the most serious or life-threatening. Starting from the air we breathe, the ground we walk on, the water we drink or the food we consume; there’s really no telling the start and end point of pollution hazards.
There has been active progress and addressable by NGO’s and governing bodies in order to improve the environmental mess, in fact it is thought that India has made the speediest progress in the world in addressing this concern. However there still remains a lot to be done and environmental issues pose serious health risks for mankind and livestock in India.
Pollution of Water
Estimates suggest that the average annual per capita water availability in India has declined by almost 70% over the last decade or so. Irregular monsoons and inadequate recharging of groundwater tables have led to many a problem. There is heavy dependence on the groundwater source as nearly 80-90% of drinking water in villages and 50-60% of water supply for urban areas is derived from it.
The existing groundwater resources are being subjugated and there’s insufficient or complete absence of access to fresh water resources. Existing lakes, ponds, reservoirs and rivers are subject to discharge of untreated sewage thereby creating a bigger issue of polluting the surface and ground water.
Sewage treatment plants that are present are not always functioning properly or in dire need for maintenance. Sewage or domestic waste water is pumped back into fresh water bodies and the vicious circle is further aggravated. Effluents leach into soil, rendering it polluted.
Industrial, chemical and agricultural waste water are the largest water pollutants. As industries increase, the consumption of water will also increase proportionally whereas the challenge of dealing with waste water remains intact. Recent reports suggest that over a hundred cities dump untreated sewage into the Ganga (Ganges River). The Ganga being one such case in point, it is common to find that across India industrial and human waste that is directly released in the water (which may later be used for human consumption). Washing of vehicles, clothes and animals is a common sight around rivers and ponds. The ecosystem around a polluted water body gets equally disturbed as does mankind.
In the air
Cited as one of the leading causes for premature deaths in India, air pollution levels have gained alarming proportions in recent times. World over, the deaths caused due to air pollution have increased fourfold in the last ten years or so. India and China are the two countries that top the charts for this pollution. WHO has ranked outdoor air pollution as being the 5th reason for mortality in India, contributing to over 6, 27,000 deaths.
These are not small numbers by any measure and it comes at a time when India is already grappling with the pressures of a burgeoning population. Current reports suggest that while on one hand the automobile sector is seeing tremendous growth in the country and on- road automobiles have increased by almost seven-fold, there are massive emission problems and causes for increased global warming attributed to it.
While vehicles cause enough air pollution, one cannot ignore the factories and industries that emit poisonous gases in the air. Rural household’s dependence on burning of fuel wood and biomass further contributes to a harmful air pollutant mix.
Garbage and Solid Waste disposal
The population in India is already exploding and if the numbers are anything to go by, there’s plenty more to come. Naturally, there is a huge amount of pressure on natural resources and it is no secret that a large part of the country’s population continues to live in abject poverty. However, the massive population has created another issue, that of waste generation.
Landfills are overflowing and it is common to see mountain sized piles of filth. In fact, nearly 50, 00, 00 people reside near these landfills in prime metros of India. What’s more, the waste generation in India is set to increase five times by the year 2047. Soon, India will be the largest producer of garbage and most probably the biggest refuse heap in the world.
While it may seem like a sorry state of affairs on the whole, there are many green initiatives being undertaken by the government to tackle these issues in a unique and non-toxic way. Perhaps the need of the hour is a far more aggressive environment conservation unanimity from every citizen.