If you take a walk through almost any part in India, you are bound to see trash scattered everywhere, along all roadsides, railways and riverbanks. But this problem is not one of just mere aesthetic insult, but rather it is a problem that is damaging the environment and leading to innumerable health issues for India’s citizens.
In most places throughout India, there is no solid waste management system. Trash is inevitably thrown into the surrounding areas, where it decomposes in the open, attracting flies and rats among other creatures. Much of the trash that is dumped is made from non-biodegradable materials, such as polythene or other non-biodegradable plastics, and thus is left to exist forever in the environment, slowly leeching its toxic ingredients into the ground, contaminating the soil and the groundwater. Animals often come along to pick through this trash in their search for food, and often die from ingesting such harmful materials such as plastic and polythenes.
This solid waste is swept into surrounding water bodies such as the Ganga and her tributaries, either purposely by people or by heavy rains during the monsoon season. In the waters, large amounts of biodegradable waste take a lot of the oxygen from the water to decompose, leading to illness and death of fish and other aquatic creatures, such as the endangered Gangetic dolphin. Non-biodegradable materials float through the rivers, create blocks in the free flow of the water and slowly leech their harmful chemicals into the water itself. Aquatic creatures often mistakenly eat these materials and die.
Many cities along the Ganga and her tributaries do not have any sort of solid waste management system, and if they do, they are never sufficient to handle the amount that is produced each day. Another huge problem is a lack of education and environmental awareness among the ordinary people. People have nowhere to put their garbage, so they inevitably throw it into the surrounding environment, being completely unaware of the consequences, or they burn the trash (which releases harmful chemicals into the atmosphere).
The need to find acceptable, sustainable and environmentally-friendly solutions for the treatment of all solid waste is great.
- Collecting and disposing solid waste at its source
- Reducing and recycling solid waste as much as possible
- Exploring creative and innovative ways in which solid waste can be used as a source of economic growth
- Preventing harmful, non-biodegradable materials, such as plastics and polythene, from entering the river; and providing alternative options for eco-friendly packaging
- Restoring the pristine nature of Ganga and her tributaries by removing currently existing pollution and effectively curtailing future pollution through Solid Waste Management
- Planning the first-ever eco-friendly Green Kumbh Mela in 2013, where no solid waste will enter Ganga or be left to pollute the environment
- Removing wandering cows from roads and providing them with care and shelter, so that they are not forced to live on the streets where they end up eating plastic and other waste
- Educating the public about the need to protect the environment, and encouraging people to stop using harmful materials like plastic and polythene and instead opt for eco-friendly alternatives like cloth and jute bags