After reading an article in The Hindu, a couple of days back, I feel that I should forget worrying about this:
The government will appoint some 'one-man commission' or 'three-man commission' which will 'investigate' the IPLgate scandal, which will run for 10-11 years, all the necessary payments will be done and will be forgotten.
I am not worried about this too:
Nithyananda's scandal, the papers say that he has got signed agreements (non-disclosure agreements) from 'volunteers' for his 'tantric' experiments! The volunteers signed the papers with their eyes open. If people still go behind these types of godmen, only GOD can help them!
This article in The Hindu, gave me more tension than the other 'important' incidents, which were covered by the news channels and print media.
I know that we have to segregate our garbage - red basket should have plastic and non-degradable materials and green basket should contain bio-degradable materials like vegetable waste. I follow this method promptly too. Our Panchayat vehicle comes and collects these bags/baskets in our door-steps everyday.
We are living in the outskirts of Chennai (Tamilnadu) and when we built our house, 14 years back, this area was said to be the dumping yard of South Chennai. But we were told that the government will stop dumping waste here (now, they have stopped this, too). A number of houses were already here and my sister-in-law was living near the area for more than 5 years and they didn't find anything wrong. After we shifted to this house, I noticed that a printing press at the parallel road to our house was regularly pouring used printing ink in the ground outside their building. I know that the printing ink is full of lead. I was worried and gave our well water for testing and the result was not very bad. I tested again, a couple of years back and nothing seems to be 'very' wrong, though the water is not good for drinking. I buy canned water for drinking and now have started using it for cooking too. Who will educate these business people about what they are doing to our water resources? This can be taken care of, while issuing the licence for this type of business, advising them as to how to dispose off the used ink etc.
The article I mentioned, states the hazardous effects of e-waste.
Now, to the article:
Citizens at Risk tells a chilling story about e-waste. Made by Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition, Chintan Environment and Action Group and Arjun Bhagat/IMAK, the short film details what happens when computers from “US, Malaysia” come to the bylanes of Delhi to “die”. In the middle of mountains of e-scrap, barefoot children, standing on a street of lead-coated broken glass, perform the last rites. Covered in toxic dust, they smash screens with hammers, while women tear apart electronic components, boil and wash them in acid with bare hands, for money-earning metals. Acid pools are everywhere. The commentator talks of toxic hydrogen chloride fumes.
Breaking computers is a billion dollar industry. The Printed Circuit Board has minute amounts of gold, silver, copper, palladium, aluminium and platinum. On its flip-side, e-waste contains toxic chemicals zinc, lead, cadmium, mercury, hexavalent chromium, PVC and arsenic compounds. When the waste is burned, heavy metals are released. With water and acids, they seep into groundwater. The complex, informal system of recycling is peopled by rag pickers who know no techniques, have no protective gear.
The MAIT-GTZ e-Waste Assessment Study says we'll be creating 4.7 lakh tonnes of this special waste this year. Add to this 50,000 tonnes coming from abroad (“Not allowed,” says Prabhu) and those dumped in the name of charity/reuse from the West, you can visualise the e-mountains we build. What gives the issue urgency is the speed of discarding — e-gadgets get obsolete before you have completely unpacked them. This reminded me of the movie WALL-E
Geetha Padhmanabhan, who has written this article has given some easy solutions too. The main solution is re-cycling as far as possible. Please read the article here.
Thank god, due to water-harvesting method, which was started by our ex-CM, Jayalalitha, has improved the water table in Tamilnadu, esp. Chennai. Now, we have to take some steps together to stop this e-waste from contaminating our water resources.
This picture shows how we might one day struggle to get a drop of water, if we don't wake up soon.
Photos and cartoon courtesy: The Hindu
The discovery of radioactive Cobalt 60 sources stored as scrap in New Delhi's Mayapuri locality by the Department of Atomic Energy and the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board is a clear pointer to the need for a stronger mechanism to monitor such dangerous waste.
The system of tracking and control of possession is obviously far from foolproof, although there is a lot of apprehension that these materials could be used by extremists to make “dirty bombs” (that can scatter radioactive materials). Many so-called sealed sources containing radioactive waste are going off the map and turning up in scrap yards, “orphaned.”
Please read further from the article. We should treat our electronic gadgets as God as well as Satan. My brother-in-law always says 'vellaikkaaranai kaiyedutthu kumbidanum - yevvalavu nalla vishayangalai kandu pidichchu koduththirukkaan!' (we should do pranaam to the white man. He has invented and given us so many good things!). Good and bad things have come together. It is in the way we utilise them, isn't it?
Edited to add on 27.4.10: One more news connected to this issue, is in the latest 'Outlook' Magazine. Read here. Worried more now.