Pollution in India: Short Essay

The problem of pollution has its roots in the problem of overpopulation. Humans have created too much trash and there is too little space on the planet to dump it in. Landfills are filling up faster than ever. Incinerators are creating more air pollution than the trash. With both population and pollution increasing at equal rates, logically speaking, a time will come when the two will negate themselves out. The adverse effects of pollution on human health will be so far reaching and widespread that it could lead to high mortality in short bursts in order to restore the balance in the environment. Society has to take some drastic measures to reduce pollution, specially the automotive industry, which is responsible for maximum contribution to air pollution in urban areas. According to WHO data 13 out of 20 of the most polluted cities are in India.

There is a school of thought that is contemplating dumping our garbage in space! While it may appear outlandish to some because of the high costs involved, others find it reasonable enough, as space is infinite and Earth is finite. The solar energy would burn up the trash and leave a cleaner Earth, they argue. There is plenty of technological trash that we have left behind in space, like old satellites, dead spacecraft and defunct rockets that are orbiting the Earth.

Air Pollution in India

India has the distinction of releasing the largest volumes of pollutants into the air after China. Majority of the cities with the most polluted air are in India and WHO goes so far as to call them death traps. Air pollution is the fifth largest killer in the country, according to Global Burden of Disease. Most vulnerable will be the old, children, homeless and poor sections of the society. Indoor air pollution caused by the burning of fuel wood and coal leads to formation of CO2 and CO along with hydrocarbons. Chronic lung disorders, cancer, prenatal deaths and low birth weight are a common occurrence due to air pollution. Industrial air pollution from petroleum refineries, chemical industry, paper and dye industries is causing severe damage to the ecology as well as several man-made structures. The losses caused due to mortality and morbidity in humans due to industrial pollution, when accounted for, would run into crores. Vehicular pollution will trigger many respiratory ailments, as traffic speed has come down considerably due to congested roads. The speed of traffic varies between 8 km/hour to 16 ms/hour. India is providing low-sulphur diesel in only some of its cities, and the rest of the country uses high-sulphur diesel for its buses and trucks that spew noxious sulphur and nitrous oxides into the air.

Urban air quality data according to the World Health Organization (WHO) reconfirms that India appears among the group of countries with highest particulate matter (PM) levels. Of the 20 most polluted cities in the world, 13 are in India, says the database. Delhi is among the most polluted cities in the world today.

Acid rain that plagued the developed countries in the 1950s–60s will soon be a reality in India. Acid rain causes irreparable damage to the biodiversity and decreases soil fertility. Diesel combustion releases sulphur dioxide into the air. India supplies low-sulphur diesel to a few cities. Indian diesel contains 0.5% sulphur by weight; but, even this is high compared to European standards where it is 0.001%. But acid rain has been slow to come to India because of the tropical weather conditions, where dust particles are high in the air. Being alkaline in nature, dust particles neutralize the sulphur dioxide present in the air and negate the formation of acid rains.

Land Pollution in India

Out of total, 16% of the world population lives in India, which occupies only 2.5% of the geographic area. Widespread poverty and heavy congestion of human settlements is putting extreme pressure on already stretched natural resources and is leading to land degradation. Heavy use of fertilizers and pesticides has depleted soil health. Due to monsoon disruption and failure in the last few years, high-yielding food crops like rice, wheat and sugarcane have placed a heavy burden on the ground water, causing severe drop in the water table. Water insecurity is an eternal problem in the country, as safe drinking water is out of reach for millions in rural India. Unsafe water and poor sanitation have claimed lives of millions of children below the age of five.

Water Pollution in India

Water pollution is mainly of three types, viz., marine pollution, fresh water pollution, and ground water pollution. River water pollution is a major problem as industrial effluents and sewage finds its ways into rivers. The capacity of water treatment plants is far below the inflow from the urban centers; and, hence, pollutants find their way to the river.

Access to safe drinking water and proper sanitation is both a right and a basic need. It has a significant bearing on the achievements of other Millennium Development Goals including poverty reduction and gender equality. However, in spite of two decades of intensive efforts by national governments and international communities, reasonable access to safe drinking water supply and better sanitation for all remains elusive. Open defecation is still a problem in the country. Seventy percent of rural households do not have toilets. In many villages, even though toilets have been constructed, out of sheer habit people still prefer going into the fields, giving scope for vector-borne diseases and communicable water-borne diseases like diarrhea, dysentery etc.

Oceans and seas are the final dumping destinations for the garbage carried by the rivers and rainwater. Marine pollution has disturbed the ecosystem of the oceans and seas, causing changes in the habitat that are disturbing the aquatic biodiversity and life of marine creatures and life forms.

Other Types of Pollution

Apart from the above mentioned main pollution types, the growth of technologies, changing life style, urbanization and industrialization, emergence of new types of pollution has increased detrimental effects on the environment, including human beings. Such emerging pollution types includes, thermal pollution, noise pollution, radiation pollution, biomedical pollution, plastic pollution and visual pollution etc.

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