बुधवार, 20 अगस्त 2008

Environmental Pollution

The environmental problems in India are growing rapidly. The increasing economic development and a rapidly growing population that has taken the country from 300 million people in 1947 to over one billion people today is putting a strain on the environment, infrastructure, and the country’s natural resources. Industrial pollution, soil erosion, deforestation, rapid industrialization, urbanization, and land degradation are all worsening problems. Overexploitation of the country's resources be it land or water and the industrialization process has resulted in considerable environmental degradation of resources.

The skies over North India are seasonally filled with a thick soup of aerosol particles all along the southern edge of the Himalayas, streaming southward over Bangladesh and the Bay of Bengal. - NASA research findings.
The cost of environmental damage in India would shave 4 percent off of the country's gross domestic product. Lost productivity from death and disease due to environmental pollution are the primary culprits.
The government agency responsible for environmental affairs is the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF). Coping with India’s industrial pollution is perhaps the agency’s top priority. MoEF recognizes the need to strike a balance between development and protecting the environment in administering and enforcing the country’s environmental laws and policies. The government heightened the Ministry’s powers with the passage of the 1986 Environment Protection Act. This act built on the 42nd amendment to India's constitution in 1976 that gave the government the right to step in and protect public health, forests, and wildlife. This amendment however had little power as it contained a clause that stated it was not enforceable by any court. India is the first country in the world to pass an amendment to its constitution ostensibly protecting the environment.
Industrial pollution

Fog due to air pollution Air Pollution
There are four reasons of air pollution are - emissions from vehicles, thermal power plants, industries and refineries. The problem of indoor air pollution in rural areas and urban slums has assumed significant attention lately.
India’s environmental problems are exacerbated by its heavy reliance on coal for power generation. Coal supplies more than half of the country’s energy needs and is used for nearly three-quarters of electricity generation. While India is fortunate to have abundant reserves of coal to power economic development, the burning of this resource, especially given the high ash content of India’s coal, has come at a cost in terms of heightened public risk and environmental degradation. Reliance on coal as the major energy source has led to a nine-fold jump in carbon emissions over the past forty years. The government estimates the cost of environmental degradation has been running at 4.5% of GDP in recent years.
The low energy efficiency of power plants that burn coal is a contributing factor. India's coal plants are old and are not outfitted with the most modern pollution controls. Given the shortage of generating capacity and scarcity of public funds, these old coal-fired plants will remain in operation for sometime. Power plant modernization to improve the plant load factor, improvements in sub-transmission and distribution to cut distribution losses, and new legislation to encourage end user energy conservation were all mentioned as part of the energy efficiency effort. The government has taken steps to address its environmental problems. As of now the use of washed coal is required for all power plants.
Vehicle emissions are responsible for 70% of the country’s air pollution. The major problem with government efforts to safeguard the environment has been enforcement at the local level, not with a lack of laws. Air pollution from vehicle exhaust and industry is a worsening problem for India. Exhaust from vehicles has increased eight-fold over levels of twenty years ago; industrial pollution has risen four times over the same period. The economy has grown two and a half times over the past two decades but pollution control and civil services have not kept pace. Air quality is worst in the big cities like Kolkata, Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, etc.
Bangalore holds the title of being the asthma capital of the country. Studies estimate that 10 per cent of Bangalore’s 60 lakh population and over 50 per cent of its children below 18 years suffer from air pollution-related ailments.
CHENNAI: Exhaust from vehicles, dust from construction debris, industrial waste, burning of municipal and garden waste are all on the rise in the city. So are respiratory diseases, including asthma. At least six of the 10 top causes of death are related to respiratory disease, says Dr D Ranganathan, director (in-charge), Institute of Thoracic Medicine.
Mumbai: Not only are levels of Suspended Particulate Matter above permissible limits in Mumbai, but the worst pollutant after vehicular emissions has grown at an alarming rate. The levels of Respirable Suspended Particulate Matter (RSPM), or dust, in Mumbai’s air have continued to increase over the past three years.
These cities are on the World Health Organization's list of top most polluted cities. Vehicle exhaust, untreated smoke, and untreated water all contribute to the problem. Continued economic growth, urbanization, and an increase in the number of vehicles, together with lax enforcement of environmental laws, will result in further increases in pollution levels. Concern with New Delhi's air quality got so bad that the Supreme Court recently stepped in and placed a limit on the number of new car registrations in the capital.
The effects of air pollution are obvious: rice crop yields in southern India are falling as brown clouds block out more and more sunlight. And the brilliant white of the famous Taj Mahal is slowly fading to a sickly yellow.
In India, air pollution is estimated to cause, at the very minimum, 1 lakh excess deaths and 25 million excesses illnesses every year. Poison in the air due to Power plants. Poison in the air due to vehicle emissions

The brilliant white of the famous Taj Mahal is slowly fading to a sickly yellow.

River water Pollution
Fully 80 percent of urban waste in India ends up in the country's rivers, and unchecked urban growth across the country combined with poor government oversight means the problem is only getting worse. A growing number of bodies of water in India are unfit for human use, and in the River Ganga, holy to the country's 82 percent Hindu majority, is dying slowly due to unchecked pollution.
New Delhi's body of water is little more than a flowing garbage dump, with fully 57 percent of the city's waste finding its way to the Yamuna. It is that three billion liters of waste are pumped into Delhi's Yamuna (River Yamuna) each day. Only 55 percent of the 15 million Delhi residents are connected to the city's sewage system. The remainder flush their bath water, waste water and just about everything else down pipes and into drains, most of them empty into the Yamuna. According to the Centre for Science and Environment, between 75 and 80 percent of the river's pollution is the result of raw sewage. Combined with industrial runoff, the garbage thrown into the river and it totals over 3 billion liters of waste per day. Nearly 20 billion rupees, or almost US $500 million, has been spent on various clean up efforts.
The frothy brew is so glaring that it can be viewed on Google Earth.
Much of the river pollution problem in India comes from untreated sewage. Samples taken recently from the Ganges River near Varanasi show that levels of fecal coliform, a dangerous bacterium that comes from untreated sewage, were some 3,000 percent higher than what is considered safe for bathing.

Groundwater exploitation
Groundwater exploitation is a serious matter of concern today and legislations and policy measures taken till date, by the state governments (water is a state subject) have not had the desired effect on the situation.
Plastic Pollution
Plastic bags, plastic thin sheets and plastic waste is also a major source of pollution.
See in detail: Plastic Bag Pollution in the country
Municipal solid waste
Municipal solid waste is solid waste generated by households, commercial establishments and offices and does not include the industrial or agricultural waste. Municipal solid waste management is more of an administrative and institutional mechanism failure problem rather than a technological one.

Pollution due to Mining
New Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) on December 29, 2007 said mining was causing displacement, pollution, forest degradation and social unrest. The CSE released its 356-page sixth State of India’s Environment report, ‘Rich Lands Poor People, is sustainable mining possible?’ According to the Centre for Science and Environment ( CSE) report the top 50 mineral producing districts, as many as 34 fall under the 150 most backward districts identified in the country.
The CSE report has made extensive analysis of environment degradation and pollution due to mining, wherein it has said, in 2005-06 alone 1.6 billion tonnes of waste and overburden from coal, iron ore, limestone and bauxite have added to environment pollution. With the annual growth of mining at 10.7 per cent and 500-odd mines awaiting approval of the Centre, the pollution would increase manifold in the coming years.

Delhi's air is choking with pollutant PM 2.5
PM 2.5 is only 2.5 microns in diameter is very very small particle. The diameter of a human hair strand is around 40-120. Being so small, it escapes emission apparatus prescribed by Euro II and III. Any kind of combustion, especially of vehicular origin, contains this particle. If PM 2.5 is not regulated it will ensure major health hazards. The number of Asthma patients will rise and in future there may huge rise of lung cancer cases also. The toxic value of PM 2.5 is such that metals like lead present in the PM 2.5 get inhaled deeper into lungs which deposits there. The children are most affected by depositing lead due to inhaling the poisonous air. The increasing amount of PM 2.5 is like a poison in the air we breathe. Researchers believe particulates, or tiny particles of soot, interfere with the respiratory system because they are so small they can be breathed deeply into the lungs.
Toxic smog is set to engulf New Delhi once again this winter after a six-year respite because of the huge number of new cars clogging the roads. New Delhi adds nearly 1,000 new cars a day to the existing four million registered in the city, almost twice as many as before 2000. Pollution levels are up to 350 micrograms per cubic metre in 2006-2007 and the levels of nitrogen oxides have been increasing in the city to dangerous levels, which is a clear sign of pollution from vehicles. Of these it is the diesel cars that are responsible for the pollution. Diesel- run vehicles constituted just two percent of the total number of cars on Delhi's roads seven years ago compared to more than 30 percent today and a projected 50 percent by 2010.Diesel is being increasingly used because it is a cheaper fuel. Diesel emissions can trigger asthma and in the long run even cause lung cancer.
A survey by the Central Pollution Control Board and the All India Institute of Medical Sciences survey showed that a majority of people living in Delhi suffered from eye irritation, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath and poor lung functioning. One in 10 people have asthma in Delhi. Worse, the winter months bring respiratory attacks and wheezing to many non-asthmatics who are old, who smoke, have respiratory infections or chronic bronchitis. Across the national capital and its suburbs, polluted air is killing people, bringing down the quality of life, and leaving people feeling ill and tired.
Some studies show children are among the worst-affected by the dense haze that often shrouds the city, and doctors frequently tell parents to keep their children indoors when smog levels are particularly high. In a survey of almost 12,000 city schoolchildren late last year, 17 percent reported coughing, wheezing or breathlessness, compared to just eight percent of children in a rural area.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions
India emits the fifth most carbon of any country in the world. At 253 million metric tons, only the U.S., China, Russia, and Japan surpassed its level of carbon emissions in 1998. Carbon emissions have grown nine-fold over the past forty years. In this Industrial Age, with the ever-expanding consumption of hydrocarbon fuels and the resultant increase in carbon dioxide emissions, that greenhouse gas concentrations have reached levels causing climate change. Going forward, carbon emissions are forecast to grow 3.2% per annum until 2020. To put this in perspective, carbon emissions levels are estimated to increase by 3.9% for China and by 1.3% for the United States. India is a non-Annex I country under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, and as such, is not required to reduce its carbon emissions. An historical summary of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from fossil fuel use in India is increasing rapidly and causes global warming.
All inhabitants of our planet have an equal right to the atmosphere, but the industrialized countries have greatly exceeded their fair, per-capita share of the planet’s atmospheric resources and have induced climate change. The most developed countries possess the capital, technological and human resources required for successful adaptation, while in the developing countries, a large proportion of the population is engaged in traditional farming, that is particularly vulnerable to the changes in temperature, rainfall and extreme weather events associated with climate change.
According to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol , the most industrialized countries are mainly responsible for causing climate change. Thus equity requires that they should sharply reduce their emissions in order to arrest further climate change and allow other countries access to their fair share of atmospheric resources in order to develop.

Pollution of Indian Seas
The first sophisticated Pollution Control Vessel to patrol the seas for oil spills and other environmental exigencies is likely to be ready by October, 2008, Vice Admiral Rusi Contractor, Director-General, Indian
Coast Guard, said in the 11th National Oil Spill Disaster Contingency Plan (NOSDCP) preparedness meeting on April 23, 2008. Mr. Contractor said the proposed induction of at least three specialised vessels by mid- 2009 would shorten the response time to an emergency. The Coast Guard chief highlighted the importance of enforcement of maritime laws. He said 90 per cent of trade was essentially sea-borne and substantial numbers of vessels were old and un-seaworthy or single-hull vessels and raised the risk of significant pollution of Indian waters.
He said pollution remedy measures were being thought of following the various international conventions on environmental pollution that would also include exhaust and greenhouse gas emissions from ships and energy efficiency certification. He pointed out that none of 10 accidents involving vessels during 2007 in Indian waters had resulted in an oil spill.
NASA research findings
Latest research findings by NASA and Stanford University indicate that aerosol pollution will slow down winds, impacting normal rainfall pattern in tropical countries. The unique combination of meteorology, landscape (relatively flat plains framed by the Himalayas to the north and open ocean to the south), and the large population maximize the effects of aerosol pollution in India. The skies over North India are seasonally filled with a thick soup of aerosol particles all along the southern edge of the Himalayas, streaming southward over Bangladesh and the Bay of Bengal. Most of this air pollution comes from human activities.
Accumulation of aerosol particles in the atmosphere also makes clouds last longer without releasing rain. This is because atmospheric water forms deposits on naturally occurring particles, like dust, to form clouds. But if there is pollution in the atmosphere, the water has to deposit on more particles. Thus it causes lesser rain.

The most polluted places in India
Vapi in Gujarat and Sukinda in Orrisa is among the world's top 10 most polluted places, according to the Blacksmith Institute, a New York-based nonprofit group.
Vapi : Potentially affected people: 71,000 -Pollutants: Chemicals and heavy metals due to its Industrial estates.
Sukinda: Potentially affected people: 2,600,000. -Pollutants: Hexavalent chromium due to its Chromite mines.
The most polluted cities in India
As many as 51 Indian cities have extremely high air pollution, Lucknow, Raipur, Faridabad and Ahmedabad topping the list. An environment and forest ministry report, released on September 14, 2007 has identified 51 cities that do not meet the prescribed Respirable Particulate Matter (RSPM) levels, specified under the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS). In 2005, an Environmental Sustainability Index (ESI) placed India at 101st position among 146 countries.
Taking a cue from the finding, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) formulated NAAQS and checked the air quality, which led to the revelation about air quality in leading cities.
According to the report, Gobindgarh in Punjab is the most polluted city, and Ludhiana, Raipur and Lucknow hold the next three positions. Faridabad on the outskirt of Delhi is the 10th most polluted city, followed by Agra, the city of Taj Mahal. Ahmedabad is placed 12th, Indore 16th, Delhi 22nd, Kolkata 25th, Mumbai 40th, Hyderabad 44th and Bangalore stands at 46th in the list. The Orissa town of Angul, home to National Aluminium Company (NALCO), is the 50th polluted city of the country.
Emissions of gaseous pollutants: satellite data
Scientists and researchers from around the world gathered at ESRIN, ESA’s Earth Observation Centre in Frascati, Italy, recently to discuss the contribution of satellite data in monitoring nitrogen dioxide in the atmosphere. Using nitrogen dioxide (NO2) data acquired from 1996 to 2006 by the Global Ozone Monitoring Experiment (GOME) instrument aboard ESA’s ERS-2 satellite, Nitrous oxide emissions over India is growing at an annual rate of 5.5 percent/year. The location of emission hot spots correlates well with the location of mega thermal power plants, mega cities, urban and industrial regions.
Emissions of gaseous pollutants have increased in India over the past two decades. According to Dr Sachin Ghude of the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), rapid industrialization, urbanization and traffic growth are most likely responsible for the increase. Because of varying consumption patterns and growth rates, the distribution of emissions vary widely across India.
Reduce pollutions: suggestions
Reduce tax on incomes and institute a tax on pollution was a suggestion environmental crusader Al Gore had for India to tackle the issue of global warming effectively. "Reduce tax on employees and employers and put a tax on pollution.
The more carbon dioxide one emits the more he pays in taxes," said Gore in an interactive session at the India Today Conclave here on March 16, 2008. Replying to a question by Minister of State for External Affairs Anand Sharma, Gore also suggested subsidising clean energy generation instead of carbon fuels like kerosene.

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