Four class XII students of St. Thomas School, Shimla, who were attending their Industrial Training Sessions on Online Media at Himachal Watcher, prepared this brief report on rampart practice of garbage burning in open by both people and civic bodies, which is leading to a rise in air pollution levels.
SHIMLA- Choked in polluted air, capital Delhi has requested neighboring states to not burn crop residues/biomass. However, the government in its neighboring state Himachal Pradesh doesn’t seem to be concerned either about Delhi or about its own ecology or health of people. Civic bodies in Himachal’s towns are regularly taking liberty to burn garbage in open. The capital Shimla, a major tourist destination, is so far leading. Disheartening is the attitude of Shimla’s civic bodies as even condition of Delhi- world’s most polluted city failed to wake them up. The condition of waste management is also self-evident from littering all over the town. The garbage that isn’t burnt is dumped by public and SMC sanitation workers in most convenient locations.
Premature Deaths Due to Ambient Air Pollution in India
In India, everyday, ambient air pollution claims 3,283 lives as premature deaths, says a report that is based on analysis of Global Burden of Disease (GBD) data by Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington in Seattle. It is on record before that burning of garbage and other materials is not only source of air pollution but forms 29.4 per cent of air pollution with reference to PM10.
According to another report released by International Energy Agency (IEA), air pollution causes over 6.5 million premature deaths worldwide. More than half of them are reported from India and India China together. This number will increase to 7.5 million in 2040. Since 1990, China reported the highest number of premature deaths due to air pollution until India took lead in 2015 and left China behind.
Burning of municipal solid waste in open has played a major role in making India number one air polluter and Delhi as the world’s most polluted city.
Shimla Following Footsteps of Delhi
Like Delhi, the imperial capital Shimla is equally threatened by its own failure to manage waste collection, segregation and treatment. Rising number of tourists also increasing the waste production. The Municipal Corporation of Shimla and State Pollution Control Board have responded to the situation in minimal possible efforts. None of the departments are working to assess and create awareness among people regarding hazards of garbage burning in open. Himachal Pradesh boasts a high literacy rate as compared to other states, however, the majority doesn’t behave like educated citizens at all, which points out Himachal’s ineffective education system. Further, the situation can be attributed insufficient and inefficient waste management policies or poor implementation of existing norms.
A research study states that the daily waste generation in Shimla City is approximately 93.0 MT (350gm /capita/day). The Municipal Corporation of Shimla claims that collection of the waste through door to door collection and community bins is approximately 70-75 MT. The waste is taken for treatment after collection, claims civic body. However, these are official statistics, which are mostly targeted to mislead centre government and International organizations to justify expenditure of loans taken.
As per a recent report published by Times of India, the door-to-door garbage collection facility in limited to only a few areas. Chamiyana, Maliyana and suburbs of the Shimla were merged with SMC long ago. But the locality is still facing an acute problem of garbage mismanagement. Locals allege lack of facility of garbage collection and availability of sufficient dustbins. Similarly, residents of Summerhill and Sangti also allege that they neither have door-to-door garbage collection facility nor dustbins. Therefore, people have no choice but to throw domestic waste into the jungle to be burnt later.
Where Does Shimla’s Waste Go?
Even in 2016, the capital doesn’t have an operational waste treatment plant. The SMC has been assuring re-opening of the plant for long, but in reality nothing is accomplished. So, if the city does not have a waste treatment plant, then where does all this waste go? The Civic body has come out with its own policy to fix it: burning garbage in open or dumping it at random locations. Burning large piles of garbage would attract attention of people, so the sanitation workers are reportedly advised to collect small heaps of everyday garbage and set them on fire without absent.
While public believed the practice is very limited, in reality, the sanitation workers have been doing the same all over the town. When viewed collectively, the amount of garbage burnt on daily basis is huge. It’s directly related to air pollution, which in turn leads to climate change.
In 2015, Shimla Civic body was also rebuked by the National Green Tribunal bench on waste treatment (plant). The bench had noted,
“We are informed by the committee appointed by the tribunal that it is not even possible to reach the plant because of huge quantity of MSW lying in that area. Needless to notice that there is complete failure of the functioning of public bodies, including all the relevant departments of the state government and it is an open threat to public health and more seriously to the environment of these areas”.
Similarly, SMC was summoned by the Himachal Pradesh High Court, too, over burning of garbage near city.
Recently, the Himachal Pradesh Pollution Control Board (HPPCB) instructed people not to throw and burn their garbage in the open. The board warned people of facing penalty on being caught violating this instruction. On the other hand, people complain that civic bodies and panchayats have themselves failed to provide the city and its suburbs proper facility to discard the waste.
Garbage Burning a Major Cause of Air Pollution
A major portion of toxic gases and elements emanate from open garbage burning or biomass burning. Biomass-burning increases during winters as people burn more of it to keep warm.
While entire world studies Indian Capital Delhi as case study of excess air pollution, its reasons, and attitude of civil bodies towards it, other neighboring North Indian States have not realized the gravity of ecological crises they are heading towards. Himachal Pradesh is fortunate to have tougher geography and comparatively larger green cover of about 65 percent (As Per HP Govt. data). However, the population has multiplied many times in towns like Shimla. Modernization is inflicting the town, but the civil bodies or other governing bodies couldn’t develop aesthetic and civic sense. Urbanization has invaded with all modern tools available, but sense of sophistication didn’t develop to keep up with this process. The results are simply terrifying and ugly.
The capital city Shimla is turning out to be the ugliest hill stations with the passage of time. Civil bodies are lethargic and State is mostly out funds to invest in providing habitable, clean environment. The city is overpopulated when available infrastructure is considered. Moreover, announcements of government regarding pacts with developed nations for assistance in waste management didn’t bear any fruits so far. In 2015, the Himachal Pradesh had signed an agreement with Holland under which it was proposed that approx. 200 MW electricity will be generated from 300 metric tonne of daily waste produced by the State. Holland had even provided financial assistance of 50,000 Euros to conduct the feasibility study. However, so far, no such improvement was observed.
Report with Photos by Class XII Students, St. Thomas’ School Shimla (Eliza Negi, Dheeman Goud, Neha Verma, Deepak Thapar)
St. Thomas’ School had introduced Mass Media Studies and Media Production as a vocational subject in 2013. As part of it, the course students are acquainted with Production processes in T.V., Radio, Print and Online Media.
Four class XII students of St. Thomas School, Shimla, who were attending their Industrial Training Sessions on Online Media at Himachal Watcher, prepared this brief report on rampart practice of garbage burning in open by both people and civic bodies, which is leading to a rise in air pollution levels. The students captured images of garbage burning at various places in Shimla city using smartphones cameras. The students also scanned sources to extract (verified) data about environmental and health hazards of garbage burning. The aim was to create awareness among people regarding hazards of air pollution.
Watch: An interesting case of leopard sighting in Shimla’s Dhanda locality
Shimla: People of Dhanda, a sort of suburb near the Totu in Shimla city, on Saturday found a leopard roaming around in their neighborhood in broad daylight. Leopard sightings in Himachal Pradesh are not unusual and Shimla is no exception. After all Himachal has 65 percent forest cover, as per official statistics.
However, this leopard was behaving like a stray dog that is used to living among humans. The big cat was not responding to the noises made by the people to scare off the animal.
The animal was not aggressive or afraid.
The leopard casually walked onto an under-construction floor of a residential building.
Luckily, the people did not harm the cat at all. In other parts of India, animals like leopard pay with their lives for straying into a human habitat. The people beat them to death with sticks and stone pelting.
But here, in Shimla, people informed the forest department about it, which was the right thing to do. Meanwhile, they just tried to scare it off so that it returns to the jungle. The people were discussing why the animal was behaving in an unusual way.
The people deserve appreciation for it because in most cases these animals revert as a defense to any sort of assaults by humans.
A resident posted some pictures and two videos of the incident. One of the video showed the animal roaming inside the residential locality. The other one showed the forest officials carrying the leopard on a stretcher and the crowd including kids following them.
They speculated it might have escaped from a zoo, which is why it was accustomed to human presence.
They spotted some wound on leopard’s body and assumed that perhaps the cat was injured.
The wildlife wing of the forest department arrived at the scene (this time with tranquilizer guns) and spotted the leopard in nearby bushes.
The animal was carried to the Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre situated in Tutikandi. It was identified as a seven-months-old female. It is not clear how it happened to stray into the locality.
The matter also pertains to the critical issue of man and animal conflict due to depletion of natural habitat. HW will try to get hold of the vet on Monday for a follow up.
Pollution killed 25 lakh people in India in one year – highest in the world: Report
Applying similar legislation and regulation from high-income countries to low- and middle-income countries could help to improve and protect health as countries develop.
While the leaders of the ruling political party are trying to politicize the firecracker ban imposed in Delhi by the Supreme Court, India has achieved another milestone – highest number of deaths due to various kinds of pollutions.
The Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health released its report on October 19. As per the report, air pollution is the biggest killer of all.
The report said out of total 6.5 million (65 lakhs) deaths reported worldwide, 28% occurred only in India. Air pollution mainly resulted in diseases such as heart disease, stroke, lung cancer, and COPD.
Almost all (92%) pollution-related deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries.
The findings of the say that in 2015, pollution killed about 2.5 million (25 lakhs) people. China reported the second highest number of deaths at 1.8 million (18 lakhs) during the same year.
It implies that air pollution kills doubt the number of people killed by AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined.
The next largest risk factor was water pollution the caused gastrointestinal diseases and parasitic infections.Workplace pollution including exposure to toxins and pneumoconiosis in coal workers, bladder cancer in dye workers, and asbestosis, lung cancer, mesothelioma, and other cancers in workers exposed to asbestos.
Finally, lead pollution resulted from high blood pressure, renal failure, and cardiovascular disease caused by lead in adults.
As per the report, human activities, including industrialisation, urbanisation, and globalisation, are all drivers of pollution.
Types of pollution associated with industrial development, such as ambient air pollution (including ozone), chemical, occupational pollution and soil pollution, have increased from 4.3 million (9.2%) in 1990 to 5.5 million (10.2%) in 2015 as countries reach higher levels of development.
The greatest impacts occured in countries that are currently undergoing rapid development and industrialisation – with pollution responsible for up to one in four deaths in the most severely affected countries (such as in India, Pakistan, China, Bangladesh, Madagascar and Kenya).
As countries develop and industrialise, the type of pollution and the related health problems they face change.
For example, water pollution and household air pollution are more common in early stages of industrial development, causing higher rates of pneumonia and diarrhoeal diseases in low- and middle-income countries.
Economic costs of pollution
The costs of pollution-related death and disease are also highly concentrated in developing regions imposing vast costs on national budgets – equivalent to around 1.3% GDP in low-income countries, compared to around 0.5% GDP in high-income countries, and 0.13% GDP globally. Healthcare spending on pollution-related diseases also disproportionately affects lower income countries – accounting for an estimated 7% of health spending in middle-income countries each year, and 1.7% annual spend in high-income countries.
Welfare losses due to deaths and disease from pollution equate to US$4.6 trillion each year (equivalent to 6.2% of global economic output). Proportionately, low-income countries pay 8.3% of their gross national income to pollution-related death and disease, while high-income countries pay 4.5%.
The environmental injustice often violates these people’s human rights.
Pollution, poverty, poor health, and social injustice are deeply intertwined. Pollution and related diseases most often affect the world’s poor and powerless, and victims are often the vulnerable and the voiceless. As a result, pollution threatens fundamental human rights, such as the right to life, health, wellbeing, safe work, as well as protections of children and the most vulnerable
Says Commission author Karti Sandilya, Pure Earth, USA.
In order to tackle pollution, we must prioritise it as an issue that affects us all, integrating it into health planning, and increasing funding to allow more research into pollution, such as monitoring pollution and its effects, and developing ways to control pollution,
says Commission co-lead, Richard Fuller, Pure Earth, USA.
Pollution can be eliminated, and pollution prevention can be highly cost-effective – helping to improve health and extend lifespan, while boosting the economy. This has been seen in high-income and some middle-income countries where legislation has helped to curb the most flagrant forms of pollution, and has led to cleaner air and water, lower blood lead concentrations, removal of hazardous waste sites, and less polluted and more liveable cities, the report further said.
The report suggest that pollution is not the inevitable consequence of economic development, and applying similar legislation and regulation from high-income countries to low- and middle-income countries could help to improve and protect health as countries develop.
Top Photo: Hindustan Times
HP Polls 2017: EC directs parties to use eco-friendly & biodegradable material for publicity
Shimla: With the announcement of the polling and counting date for the General Elections to the Legislative Assembly of Himachal Pradesh would come an environmental menace – waste of publicity material left by party workers during campaigning period. Use of flex boards would be an suitable example.
Considering the fact that the public, administration, and the politicians are least concerned about environmental or visual pollution, it was necessary that the Election Commission interfere here.
In its notification issued regarding the schedule for the elections, the Election Commission of India has included separate direction to all the political parties, contesting candidates and their authorized agents etc. to desist from utilizing environmentally hazardous materials like plastics, polythene etc for the preparation and usage election-related publicity materials.
The EC has directed them to use eco-friendly and bio-degradable substances for preparing election campaign or publicity material.
The EC has directed the DEOs and ROs to emphasize the importance of environment protection and preservation during the meetings with the political parties and contesting candidates. They were also asked to ensure that the the political parties adhere to the instructions of the Commission with regard to the usage of non-eco-friendly materials.
The Commission has directed all the CEOs to instruct all the political parties in their respective states regarding the usage of eco-friendly and biodegradable materials.
The concern of the Commission about the long-term deleterious impact of materials like plastics, polythene etc on the life-giving and life-sustaining environment is worth appreciable provided it is actually followed.
The political parties and their leaders bear the moral and ethical duty of passing instruction to their party-workers to adhere to the EC directions and help keep Himachal clean.
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