Tag Archives: village panchayat

Open Burning of Household Waste – What can be done?

There is a real problem, out here!! Perhaps, its effect is accentuated by certain weather patterns. It is December, 2018 in Trivandrum, Kerala, India.

I used to be enamored by the view I would have from our 13th floor flat balcony. The breezed would also be amazing for months at a stretch…

And then, this period of lull came, when I felt it difficult to breathe in fresh air, as it smelled heavily of smoke and plastic. To worsen the impact, was the continuous blanket of haze, which engulfed all that was beautiful giving an ominous, dull feel.

I felt as if this is the end of all that was good…I would keep the doors and windows of our house shut, and worry for my kids’ and husband’s health. I would also worry what would my aged mother breathe in, if I call her to my place?

However, today is new day…the weather has improved…It seems to be a fresh day, with the beautiful colors of nature, again showing from my house’s balcony.

IMG20181223114053So what was that phase, of 15 to 20 days? It was like a bad dream…

Ok, I still did not mention where from the smoke and plastic smell came? There is a widespread practice of open burning of household waste in areas in and around of Trivandrum. This is especially true for stand alone houses.

So, house after house, had a burning pile of waste , which of course, included plastic and all components of domestic waste. The fumes, would make air heavy with smoke and plastic smell. And with no breeze in the atmosphere to disperse the fumes, the resulting haze pervaded like ‘doom.’

My question here is – are we human beings, with our good minds, just around here, to be a part of the problem, rather than solution?

Do we find it ok to pollute the air to the extent, it feels terrible to breathe it in?

If it is our pollution, who will do the clean up…? Nature?

If we do not get our act straight, then we will have to keep our windows and doors shut and cover our noses with masks, till Mother Nature sends some breeze to clear our pollution…

IMG20181216181202How can we get  our act straight?

  1. Tell the Municipal governing body or Village Panchayat to get waste collected from door-to-door on a daily basis.
  2. Again, tell these bodies to incentivize waste generators to separate plastics as well as recyclables at the source level, and finally to arrange for its regular collection and scientific disposal.
  3. Further, there is a need to educate one and ll to generate less waste, especially that from single-use plastics and products.

It is high time this is done…! While this is being done, lets do our bit and reduce our contribution of waste, especially the non-biodegradable waste.

Thanks for reading.!

 

 

Advertisements

Air Pollution in Trivandrum – Issues and Solutions

What is air pollution?

“Air pollution consists of chemicals or particles in the air that can harm the health of humans, animals, and plants.” (National Geographic)]

Trivandrum’s Air Quality Index for November 7, 2018 is 134. (AQICN.org)

How is it harmful?

Apart from the obvious breathing issues it can cause, including bronchitis, “conditions such as asthma, heart disease, and lung disease can be made worse by exposure to air pollution”; further, it can cause “long-term damage to people’s nerves, brain, kidneys, liver, and other organs.”

Having observed the issue keenly during my stay in this city, I have identified three main sources of localized air pollution :

  1. Open burning of waste
  2. Dust from unkempt and broken roads and muddy lanes
  3. Exhaust fumes from diesel trucks, carriers, buses, and other vehicles.

These three sources, if left unchecked, have tremendous potential to pollute the city to the level people feel uncomfortable walking in the open. This is despite the green cover, that this city, has at present.

Another upcoming source of air pollution is the unmanaged and ever increasing construction activities.

As Kerala is being rebuilt and the state endeavors to retain its natural charm, it is very important for administration and residents to be aware of these dangers.

What are the solutions at hand?

  1. To minimize burning of waste, people need to be made aware of the harms of open burning of waste and be incentivized to separate recyclable waste.
  2. Buyers of recyclable waste needs to be roped in to collect it from the residential and commercial units at regular intervals.
  3. A separate community awareness drive needs to be initiated towards reducing use of one-time plastic.
  4. People need to be educated on composting of wet waste.
  5. Municipal corporation/municipality/village panchayat needs to step in to enforce rules for stopping open burning of waste.
  6. To minimize dust from unkempt roads and muddy lanes, municipal corporation/ municipality/village panchayat need to ensure watering of roads and regular cleaning. At a comprehensive level, scientific planning and construction of roads needs to be undertaken.
  7. To minimize exhaust fumes from diesel trucks, carriers, buses, and other vehicles, regular inspection of vehicles (made possible through yearly or biannual registration check) and imposing fines at the spot by traffic police personnel (or better, a specially deployed “pollution control personnel”) on erring vehicles are possible solutions.
  8. At the government level, all subsidies on diesel should be reduced (except a few sensitive categories like water pumps for farmers) as it is the most polluting fuel. Specially for public carriers, such engines must be designed which are low maintenance, high performing, and least polluting.

All need to work towards it…individuals, private players, administration, and Government.