Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Electronic Waste - A threat to environment

Electronic waste or e-waste is discarded electronic materials like mobile phones, computers, television sets  which are supposed to be recycled or reused. As technology advances and new electronic gadgets are introduced every often, the amount of discarded electronic equipments also increases. These materials are highly dangerous and could make serious impact on environment. Electronic wastage contain hazardous components like lead, beryllium, cadmium etc.  Proper disposal or recycling of these components are inevitable to keep environment free from pollution.

Coming to India, growing economy has made possible for everyone to have a mobile phone or computer. India is a potential market for electronic manufacturers. They introduce new models of their electronic products and people do not hesitate to try it. This habit creates a tendency to throw away the old gadget they were using and thus makes the mountain of e-waste. Just like other wastage, electronic waste also is not properly treated in India. Unscientific processing of e-waste releases toxic elements and it affects the person who handles it and the environment. There are many cancer causing components in laptops, circuit boards etc.

Developed countries found a solution to get rid of e-waste. They send it to countries like India and China where environmental care is sleeping. It is said that around 80% of e-waste in the United States is exported to third world countries in Asia and Africa. Lack of proper provisions to handle these e-wastage creates deep effects in the environment in these countries. In India, there are many villages where electronic garbage are collected for separating copper and gold. They use cyanide to separate gold from circuit board. They burn tangled wire to separate copper from it. People who are dealing with these methods for long time are in the risk of diseases like cancer. Millions of people in rural areas are going through many health related disturbances due to continuous interaction with hazardous chemicals. There are many safe methods to dismantle e-waste.  What the authorities should do is to establish proper system for recycling or reusing e-waste and give training to those millions of people who are involved in it.

E-waste Management - Components

The first step in e-waste management is to collecting and sorting e-waste and transporting it to the location where it will be treated. E-waste should be sorted according to the hazardous element it produces while processing.

Once it is sorted and reached the location recycling can be started. This process includes dismantling, identifying valuable components and recovering them. The recovered components can be exported to use it for manufacturing. The stakeholders of e-waste management are manufactures, recyclers , policy makers and users. It helps reduce environmental issues caused by e-waste dumping too.

Considering the increased tendency to produce more e-waste in India, the government has taken initiative to handle it in a proper manner. In collaboration with countries who have successfully established e-waste management plants, India is set to  get rid of e-waste and what else we can gift to mother nature.

Water pollution - some facts

Water pollution is a major concern that threatens the health and life for humans. It is a fact that we are the leading contributor in polluting water. Irrespective of our demand for safe water, we keep on dumping wastage in our water sources. It is only when an outbreak of diseases or a sudden insufficiency of water we think back about polluting water. However, we don’t learn from the mistakes and continue our pledge to make water dirty.

Water is said to be polluted when it is impaired by wastage, sewage or any organic or inorganic elements. The contaminated water is not suitable for human use such as drinking. Consumption of polluted water leads to health related issues, epidemics and many other infections which may lead to loss of life. The surface water bodies are easily contaminated compared to ground water sources. As surface water is open to all kinds of dirt and infections, the effects of pollution reaches everywhere immediately. Frequent discharge of wastage and chemicals into rivers is the protagonist in creating water borne diseases. Other major sources of water like well, ponds etc. are also being polluted day by day.

As said earlier, water pollution leads to massive aftereffects like epidemics, disturbance to eco system, insufficient availability of usable water etc. whether it is an individual or a society, it is important to be careful while dealing with wastage. Remember that the life of water is in our hands. We are the only responsible creatures in this world to grow or kill water.

Sewage treatment is another crucial factor in keeping water safe and clean. In villages and some parts of urban areas, it is a common thing to use ground water for both cleaning and drinking purposes. The water which is polluted again gets polluted and the risk of water borne diseases gets geared up. Be a vigilant member of the society and start practicing keeping water safe and clean for the future.

Children and Water in India

In rural India, availability of water is a major issue which is still not addressed. While, urban areas are provided with purified drinking water, rural areas are always ignored by the authorities. The main sources of water in rural areas are rivers, ponds and wells. Studies say that women in rural areas spend lion share of their days for gathering water for household purposes. The same water is used for drinking, cooking and cleaning. Lack of clean and safe drinking water invites water borne diseases.

The water they collect from various sources is contaminated with organic and non-organic elements. As there is no system available for purification, villagers are forced to drink water infected by dirt and bacteria. It is children who suffer more with water borne diseases. Around 1.5 million children are estimated to die of diarrhea, which is for sure is something to worry about. One third of all deaths of children below five years of age in India are due to diarrhea and pneumonia. More children suffer with weakened immune system, loss of weigh and malnutrition.

Apart from health issues, children in rural India undergo much other turmoil because of unavailability of water. It is a common thing in rural areas for children to accompany women for collecting drinking water. Most of the children, whether it is girl or boy, skip schools to get water for their family. This long walks also affect their health and sanity too.

Rural poverty is a major cause for this situation. People in rural areas are mostly into agriculture which does not give them enough money to afford safe drinking water. As children spend their time for collecting and transporting water to home, what they actually skip is an opportunity to learn and find a better employment. Gradually, these children when they grow up will turn to agriculture and farming and the situation is handed over to next generation.

Water is a basic need in human life. No animal or plant can survive without water in this planet. So, it is more important for us to have water more than anything, say education. It may sound odd but it is the reality. This is the reason the children in rural areas prefer to go for water rather than education. This situation has to be changed. Providing drinking water to the rural people is the only solution for sending their children school.

On the other hand, unhealthy children cannot contribute much to the society and economy. Their productivity will be much lesser than someone who has access to clean drinking water. There are millions of children in India who are facing this issue of unhealthy life. Their parents are helpless due to financial issues. They might be willing to provide clean water to their children but, for some reasons the situation doesn’t allow them to do so.

Immediate action should be taken from the side of Government and other institutions. For example, the Community Water Centers installed by Smaat India Pvt. Ltd provides purified drinking water for rural areas for an affordable price. They are moving ahead with more projects to supply drinking water for everyone in rural India to encourage the habit of drinking safe and clean water.

The curious case of Slums in India

Slums are considered as the poorest form of life. Unlike insufficient life in rural areas, slums are much worse though they exist in urban areas. Poverty and lack of basic needs are the hallmark of slums. It is a painful experience to walk through a slum witnessing the helplessness and bottom level living standards that slum-dwellers lead. It would evoke so many questions about our own existence in the world. Slums, as the name itself sounds awful, are in total a reality of life which we cannot ignore.

As said earlier, slums don’t have the basic needs of life or have the pathetic level of needs. Housing for example, gives the basic picture of the wretched life in slums. They are often made with plastic sheets, old cloths and whatever waste material they find to cover the roof. There will be no ventilation and the floors are dirty like the streets they live in. Slum dwellers are not protected from rain or storm. They are open to pollution all the time and suffer a lot with diseases. The saddest part is that it is very difficult for slum dwellers to get medical aid or help from authorities because they are the marginalized group in the society.

Most of the slums are situated near drainage areas. The unhygienic environment makes their lives much harder and they are always on the shore of health related issues. They don’t have access to safe water and they use contaminated water available in their surrounding for household needs. The frequent interaction with contaminated water not only affects their health but also invites mosquitoes and other insects which carry harmful viruses. Women and children are more affected by the scarsity of clean water. Women, as they are in charge of cooking and cleaning, are always interact with polluted water. Children, being fed by polluted water everyday succumb to water borne diseases very easily.

Other than poor housing, sanitation and health related issues, slums face more vicious aspects of life like lack of education and employment. Most of the children in slums don’t go to school. Their parents don’t have financial capacity to provide good education to children. Men in slums wander around in search of jobs and even if they find one get inadequate income to feed their family. They never get a chance to develop their skills and find a better income. The authorities ignore them as they don’t come under the elite urban population.

Mahatma Gandhi said, “There are people in the world so hungry, that God cannot appear to them except in the form of bread.” But, while it is about slum-dwellers, the situation is more deeper than finding bread. Poverty is a curse. Every member of the society has the right to lead a reasonable standard in their lives. But, ignorance and hatredness makes slum dwellers life miserable. Don’t they have the right to live happily and safely?

Whom should they ask about their poor life?