Scavenging the Sticky Glue

What struck me in this story about scavenger children using improvised boats and magnets to collect coins from the Yamuna river in Delhi, was this comment by Dr Shreekant Gupta, professor at the Delhi School of Economics:

According to Dr. Shreekant Gupta, a professor at the Delhi School of Economics specializing in the environment, factoring in 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 (water-borne diseases are India’s leading cause of child mortality) are the primary culprits.

“Some of this feeling of euphoria gets a bit dampened thinking of environmental degradation,” says Gupta. After environmental corrections, he puts India’s rocketing 9 percent annual growth rate at a mediocre 4.5 percent.(link)

Lack of regulations, and a still worse record in implementing them is one side to the story, a change in paradigm going away from centralised form of disposing the effluents is another. It is amazing that while governments display excessive triumphalism in inviting FDI, neither the multinationals nor the international agencies prescribe any sort of regulations on environment.

The story in India is not unique, as more and more production moves offshore to countries like China and India, the exploitation of natural resources pushes more and more people in these countries to the brink. A recent World bank report has suggested that close to 500,000 people in China die because of air and water pollution.

In a recent inspection of 529 firms along the Yellow, Yangtze and other major rivers and lakes, 44% had violated environmental laws, while almost half of the 75 waste water treatment facilities underperformed or did not work. Zhou said some waterways resembled “sticky glue”.(link)

But this is not too bad if compared with the conditions in Africa which bears the brunt of environmental change.

Despite contributing under 5% of the global amount of the six key greenhouses gases, Africa is one of the continents most vulnerable to climate change, a recent United Nations report on climate change found.Between 75 and 250-million people in Africa are expected to face even greater water shortages by 2020 as a result of climate change, the report said.

“It’s not enough to stop pollution now,” Worthington told Deutsche Presse-Agentur. (link)

Cross posted at How the Other Half Lives


Author: bhupinder singh

an occasional blogger

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