Just stepping out of our homes into the street will make anyone want to return back to our comfort zones. The reason is simple pollution everywhere. Here, there and everywhere around us we can see pollution eating into our lives day in and day out.
Urbanisation and Pollution
The presence of poisonous, contaminating substances in the environment around us creates havoc to the dwelling space and introduces harmful and non-biodegradable substances. These harmful chemical laden toxic elements cause ‘pollution’. Man and his ways have polluted the environment around us, it’s a phenomenon prevailing since many millions of years and has reached alarming levels today.
The concern in the urban areas is more serious because the greenery belt in the metros cities are severely low and pollution levels are very high. Infact there is no control on pollution and no scientific checks that can solidly create a lasting impact to bring down pollution levels.
Urban areas have higher density of vehicles, more emissions from factories and industries, higher rate of food adulteration, etc. This has caused overall rise in the average temperatures, created way for global warming. Due to this, people are suffering from deadly diseases, like cancer and asthma, acid rains are becoming more common. Air, water, land pollution is fully contaminating the environment around us severely.
Burning of farm residues
Whenever we take a long drive towards the out suits of any city, we can find thick and thin piles of smoke swelling up from small or big farm lands. It could be paddy straws that are being burnt or any other agricultural leftovers. They cause major reasons for pollution. They can be detrimental to our health too. They have very high small micro level particles in them that can choke our lungs and trouble the respiratory system.
The concentration of these fine particles in the residue burning would be so high that the smoke can actually enter the nearby, immediate urban landscape and cause huge damage to the lungs. Very high levels of toxic elements like nitrogen, phosphorus etc. are found in this kind of smoke emitting out of residue burning.
The levels of potassium and sulphur can act upon the neighbouring lands and destroy the top layers of the soil. Thus even fertile lands can become barren and unfit for cultivation. This issue could be circled under the group of soil pollution.
The Air Act of 1981 considers burning of crop and farm residues an unacceptable and punishable act and they can be tried under judicial lens. But strict enforcement’s of laws by authorities at the grass roots level is almost absence, making it easy for farmers to continue with their unscientific acts. A simple remedy to this burning issue could be to find alternate rises of farm residues to avoid burning them.
Indian transportation of pollution
As chocolates are to children, so is motor pollution to vehicles plying on Indian roads, especially city and urban areas. The environment is degraded by pollutants emitted out from the fumes of exhausts fitted to vehicles. They have ill effects on plant life, animal life and destroy the delicate balance present in the ecosystem.
The motor or vehicular pollutants include elements like carbon monoxide, toxic nitrogen oxide, ammonia, high levels of hydrogen and sulphur dioxide. Economic liberation in urban areas has made people more outgoing in their choices of vehicles.
A small family of four now has all 4 members having 4 different vehicles to use. It is not about necessity it is a question of luxury. So the amount of pollution that was previously caused by vehicle of a family has proportionately increased to nearly four-fold.
The term ‘car pollution’ is commonly used in urban areas for obvious reasons. The greenhouse emissions can actually cause a lot of destruction to our atmosphere. Petrol and diesel when burnt, release harmful by products into the environment.
The smoke released from cars contain a huge list of pollutants in them. Particulate matter can choke our lungs and lead to deadly diseases like cancer. The fuel that silently escapes fuel tanks in vehicles is very toxic. They can silently deplete the protective layers of the atmosphere and add to greenhouse effect.
Better management of resources
In urban areas, the primary and most prominent form of pollution that reduces the green belt and improves specific contamination is ‘air pollution’. We cannot just blame vehicles for pollution. We ourselves are to be blamed first. In our day to day lives. We depend on plastic items for almost every other need.
We have plastic toothbrushes, plastic mugs, plastic pens etc. Our whole life revolves around the plastic usage! Plastic after being thrown, does not decay and can cause major health hazards that can’t be cured. Every year along big sea shores, we find whales falling dead on the shore with a stomach filled with tons of plastic. So plastic is definitely not a good choice and we can replace it with other alternatives.
When we step outside our rooms, we forget to turn off lights and fans leading to energy wastage. Every house, be it in urban or rural background churns out piles of waste from their homes every day. Scientific way of waste disposal could put an end to soil pollution and attract better ways of handling and treating waste and disposed resources.
Paper can be recycled but plastic cannot be recycled. So we can replace our plastic bags and use paper bags in their place. We have to ensure safe disposal of paints, varnishes, worn out batteries. Not disposing them could pollute the air in the immediate environment/neighbourhood and cause further pollution.
Pollution and loss to national income
As we begin to put more things and stuffs into our wardrobe, we should also consciously understand that we are adding to the heap of pollutants around us. When we don’t recycle things and litter our places, we congest our environment and degrade the quality of life. We cause pollution to the air and water sources. Industrial pollution adds debris and creates more havoc than we think.
For every such pollution activity, there are associated costs that escalate every now and then. The costs associated with pollution are not directly assessed when the GDP of a country is taken into account. Yet, if we go by relative figures we can see the same reflected in our national income.
It we take a simple example, every tourist that visited the sacred Ganges at Varanasi polluted or contributed to pollution. It could be plastic wastes or contaminating water sources. When all this piled up and was no longer tolerable, action was essential and thus it took thousands of crores to actually clean up the river. This comes from the taxpayers money.
With every such source of pollution at various other points, national income is seriously affected by pollution factors. Environmental woes add to the problem of pollution plus eat up into the taxpayer’s money since huge sums of relief fund need to be necessitated for welfare activities. Citizens charters have risen to bring about awareness and we as responsible citizens should stop tolerating this menace.
Pollution, filth and dirt all these are common sights when we visit public places in urban areas. Be it railway stations, airports or bus stands, awareness and consciousness regarding cleanliness is very less. When international delegates visit our country to explore business possibilities, they fight for space and greenery in a contaminated and germ-laden atmosphere.
So, many a times the name we achieve in an international scene gets clutched and achieves poor remarks in international arenas due to pollution and environmental degradation.
Threat of diseases
Paying a casual visit to a nearby slum area will give you glaring images of filth, uncleared garbage, poor on no sanitation facilities and above all, the spring of diseases and the thriving of life risky viruses and bacteria.
Pollution can cause many deadly diseases to both humans and animals. Bronchitis and asthma are becoming common ailments in cities. Not just the older people, even younger generations are falling prey to it.
Smoking is a very normal activity in public places in cities. Smoking can cause cancer of the lungs. The onset of respiratory disease is mainly due to high levels of pollution in cities. Water borne contaminants can easily cause cholera and diphtheria.
Dysentery is a common problem in children when accidentally fed with polluted water. The sewage water that gets mixed with good, potable water can cause mutations to genes and alter the specific creation of progeny in human beings.
Not just that, the high levels of adulterants and toxic minerals and chemicals present in the food we eat can cause gastrointestinal disorders and give way to incurable diseases. Mutations causing cancer is one of the most common things we get to hear and loss of lives due to pollution is certainly on a steady rise.
Some of the recent reports cited, formulated and land out to the Indian public have shortlisted cities that have very high pollution levels and pose a threat to the people living there. Gwalior is one of those prominent cities where levels of air pollution is just unacceptable.
The WHO also prescribes to safety levels and permissible levels of air pollution. Cities like Delhi are much higher than these permissible levels. The cause of such high levels of toxic pollution can be attributed to rich concentration of particulate matter.
The Kashmir region and neighbouring Himalayan states are also slowly creeping into the list, given their shift from slow pollution to high levels of contamination in air matter.
Global reports published by WHO every year collect research data from nearly thousands of Indian cities, say around 3000 and more and then come up with the final list of most polluted cities. The Indian government has also set up committees to act upon this data and monitor pollution.
Ranking of Indian Cities
It is strange to find many Indian cities making their way into the world’s most polluted cities. The numbers are not just ones or twos. They have a major share in terms of pollution. Gwalior leads the list, followed by Allahabad, Patna and Raipur. Delhi comes a close next.
The power plants and industries in these cities contribute maximum to pollution. All three categories of pollution – air, water and land were taken into account while listing out cities for pollution.
Severe health issues and more effective laws to curb pollution in these cities are called for to enforce norms. Environmental degradation and eruption of health hazards are some of the other threats and risks that can be expected of, due to pollution.
Pollution is a global crisis today. Right from the garbage that we throw from our houses, to the sewage and industrial wastes let out from factories and industries, we can find pollution everywhere. Contaminants and effective cause harm to human beings and life on Earth.
There are laws to check pollution levels in the country. Strict enforcement of these laws is completely missing. Environmental laws have been modified and the government has also set up a separate ministry for environment and green tribunals to look into the menace of pollution. Urban cities in India score much higher in terms of pollution levels compared to rural counterparts.