Time Bomb Ticking
According to Compendium of Environment Statistics India 2008-2009, produced by Central Statistical Organization (CSO),
• India is one of the 12 megabiodiversity countries of the world. From about 70 percent of the total geographical area surveyed so far, 46,000 plant species and 81,000 animal species representing about 7 percent of the world’s flora and 6.5 percent of the world's fauna, respectively, have been described. Out of the total twelve biodiversity hot spots in the world, India has two; one is the north east region and other the western ghats.
• As per the latest State of Forest Report 2009, the forest cover in the country is 690,889 km sq. and constitutes 21.02 percent of its geographic area. There is a increase of 728 km sq in forest cover in year 2007 as compared to revised assessment made in 2005. The total tree cover of the country has been estimated as 92,769 km sq. or about 2.82 percent of the country’s geographic area.
• More than 60 percent of Indian households depend on traditional sources of energy like fuel wood, dung and crop residue for meeting their cooking and heating needs. Out of total rural energy consumption about 65 per cent is met from fuel wood. Fuel wood consumption during 2001-02 is estimated at 223 million tones, 180 millions tones of which is for household consumption and the balance for cottage industry, big hotels etc. Burning of traditional fuels introduces large quantities of CO2 when the combustion is complete, but if there is incomplete combustion and oxidation then Carbon monoxide (CO) is produced, in addition to hydrocarbons.
• About 24 mha are occupied by the housing, the industry and for other non-agricultural uses, 19.2 mha are snowbound and remote, leaving only 263 million hectare for agriculture, forestry, pasture and other biomass production. Since 1970-71, the net area sown has remained almost the same at around 141 mha levels.
• Average annual precipitation is nearly 4000 cubic km. and the average flow in the river system is estimated to be 1880 cubic km. Because of concentration of rains only in the three monsoon months, the utilizable quantum of water is about 690 cubic km.
• A total of 42.6 million people living in 8.2 million households have been enumerated in slums of 640 cities/towns spread across 26 states and union territories in 2001 census. The slum population constitutes 4 percent of the total population of the country. The slum dwellers in the country constitute nearly a seventh of the total urban population of the states and union territories reporting slum population and 23.1 percent of the population of the 640 cities/towns reporting slums.
• Cities with population above 100,000 accounts for 60 percent of country’s population in 2001. About 17.7 million population lives in the citites with population above one million, which is 41.6 percent of the total slum population in the country. In absolute numbers, Greater Mumbai has the highest slum population of around 6.5 million followed by Delhi 1.9 million and Kolkata 1.5 million. The slum areas of Surat, Hyderabad, Chennai and Nagpur have more than half a million population each.
• Waste management differs for different types of wastes and for wastes in different geographical locations such as urban, rural and hilly areas. While the management of non-hazardous domestic waste is the joint responsibility of the citizens and the local government, the management of commercial, industrial and hazardous waste is the responsibility of the waste generators like commercial establishments, healthcare establishments, industries and the pollution control boards.
• As per 2008 statistics, it is estimated that in India we need to manage 0.573 million metric tons (MMT) of municipal solid waste per day of which about 60 percent is organic waste amounting to 0.292 MMT/d. There are only 110 facilities in the country for treating hardly 50 percent of the organic waste generated.
• In the present practice of mixed collection and transportation throughout the country, collection efficiency is only around 60 percent and the rest 40 percent lies uncollected and scattered all over our towns and cities, polluting the surrounding land and water resources. This also leads to proliferation of rodents and vectors spreading diseases and air pollution from dust and smoke when burnt in the open.
• About 24 landfill facilities, jointly having the capacity of holding 0.06 MMT/d have been constructed in the country for landfilling against a total requirement for landfilling of about 0.183 MMT/d of inert wastes.
• The Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD) assessed Municipal Solid Wastes (MSW) generation in the country to be 1,00,000 Metric Tons or 0.1 million metric tonnes per day (MMT/d) in the year 2001-02. The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) made a survey of 59 cities in India during the year 2004-05 to assess the existing status of MSW management which included 35 metro cities and 24 State capitals. Based on this study and on census data of 2008, the MSW generation in the country has been estimated to be 0.573 (MMT/d) in the year 2008.
• The average collection efficiency of municipal solid waste ranges from 22% to 60%. The highest per capita waste generation was in the city of Kochi (0.67 kg/capita/day) and the lowest was (0.17-0.19 kg/c/day) in Kohima, Imphal and Nashik.
• The waste characterization showed that municipal solid wastes typically contains 51 % of organic waste, 17% recyclables, 11% hazardous and 21% inert. However, about 40% of all MSW is not collected at all and hence lies littered in the city/town and finds its way to nearby drains and water bodies, causing choking of drains and pollution of surface water.
• There are 86 mechanized compost plants, 20 Vermi-compost plants, 2 refuse Derived Fuel (RDF) plants, and two with energy recovery system established so far in India. Also Sanitary Landfill Facilities (SLF) have been constructed in the country for scientific disposal of MSW, many of which are in operation.
• Municipal Solid Wastes (Management and Handling) Rules are not being effectively implemented in most of the local bodies i.e. in about 4377 municipalities and municipal corporations spread throughout the country.
• The plastic consumption in India, as per estimate in 2008 by CPCB was 8 MT/annum, out of which about 5.7 MT of plastics are converted into waste annually i.e. 15,722 tons of plastic waste is generated per day. Therefore the per capita generation of plastic waste has been estimated as 5.7 Kg/annum.
• The figures available on plastic waste are estimated on the assumption that 70% of the total plastic consumed is transformed into waste. It has been reported that 60% of total plastic waste generated is recycled and 40% is littered and remains uncollected. Therefore, approximately, 6289 tons per day (TPD) i.e. 40% of plastics are neither collected,nor recycled and find their way into drains, open lands, rivers, railway tracks and coasts. These in turn, choke drains or get dredged in the soil, making the land infertile.
• Thermoplastics, which include Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET), Low Density Poly Ethylene (LDPE), Poly Vinyl Chloride (PVC), High Density Poly Ethylene (HDPE), Polypropylene (PP), Polystyrene (PS) etc, constitute 80% of the total plastics.
• In terms of types of plastics, almost 90% of the plastic types are recyclable and only 10% of the various types of waste are non-recyclable.
• It is estimated that the construction industry in India generates about 10-12 million tons of waste annually.
• Approximately 288.20 tons per day (56.87%) out of 506.74 tons per day wastes generated is being treated either through Common Bio-medical Waste Treatment Facilities (159 in number), or captive treatment facilities. There are 602 Bio-medical Waste Incinerators (which include both common and captive incinerators), 2218 autoclaves, 192 microwaves, 151 hydroclaves and 8,038 shredders in the country. About 424 (70.4%) out of 602 incinerators are provided with air pollution control devices and 178 (29.6 %) incinerators are in operation without air pollution control devices.
• The E-waste inventory based on the obsolescence rate in India for the year 2005 has been estimated to be 1,46, 000 tonnes, which is expected to exceed 8,00,000 tonnes by 2012.
• There are about 36,000 hazardous waste generating industries in India which generate 6.2 million tonnes out of which land fillable hazardous waste is about 2.7 million tonnes (44%), incinerable hazardous waste is about 0.4 million tonnes (7 %) and recyclable hazardous waste is about 3.1 million tonnes (49 %). Indiscriminate and unscientific disposal of wastes in the past has resulted in several sites in the country to become environmentally degraded.
• There are 141 hazardous waste dumpsites that have been primarily identified in 14 States/UTs out of which 88 critically polluted locations are currently identified. Gujarat (about 29%), Maharashtra (about 25%) and Andhra Pradesh (about 9%) are the top three HW generating States. Thereafter, Chhattisgarh (about 5%), Rajasthan, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu (about 4 %) are found to be major generators of HW. These seven States together, are generating about 80 % of country's total HW. About 64 Common Hazardous Waste Transportation, Storage and Disposal Sites (TSDFs) have been identified in various States/UTs out of which 35 sites have been notified.
According to the report The State of World Population 2009 (UNFPA): Facing a changing world: Women, population and climate,
• The temperature increase since the late 1800s may seem small—0.74 degrees Celsius—but the impact on people is likely to be profound. The impact will be even greater as temperatures continue rising, by as much as 6.4 degrees Celsius by 2100.
• Rice-growing, livestock-raising, and burning organic wastes have more than doubled methane concentrations. The use of artificial fertilizers, made possible by techniques developed in the early 20th century, has released large amounts of another greenhouse gas, nitrous oxide, into air and water.
• Since 2000, “anthropogenic” or human-caused carbon-dioxide emissions have been increasing four times faster than in the previous decade. Most of the emissions came from burning fossil fuels.
• The World Health Organization estimates that in 2000 some 150,000 excess deaths were occurring annually—in extreme heat waves, storms, or similar events—as a result of climate change that had occurred since the 1970s.
• The additional greenhouse gases that come from intense burning of fossil fuels, modern farming methods that rely on fertilizers, and the industrial use of chlorofluorocarbons, particularly in the past 40 years, have thrown the earth’s natural greenhouse effect into a state of disequilibrium. In addition, deforestation, clearing of other vegetation and the accumulation of carbon dioxide in the oceans have reduced the capacity of the world’s “carbon sinks,” which have for millennia absorbed excess carbon from the atmosphere. Less capacity to absorb carbon means there is more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, exacerbating what now appears to be a runaway greenhouse effect.
• The ten warmest years between 1880 and 2008 are: 1997, 1998, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008.
• Developing countries will account for the majority of the growth in total volume of carbon-dioxide emissions related to fossil fuels from 2008 through 2030.
• Emissions to be lower in 2030 than today only in Europe and Japan, where population is now approaching or already in decline
• Global emissions of black carbon are rising fast, and Chinese emissions may have doubled since 2000.
• From 1850 to 2002, countries we now call developed accounted for an estimated 76 per cent of cumulative carbon-dioxide emissions from fossil-fuel combustion, while the countries we now call developing accounted for an estimated 24 per cent.
• Boosted by growing populations and rising affluence, the sum total of all developing countries’ emissions began exceeding the totals of all those of developed countries in 2005 and now make up 54 per cent of the total.
• In 2007, China is believed to have overtaken the United States in total carbon-dioxide emissions resulting from fossil-fuel combustion.
Some of the climate change risks according to the report The State of World Population 2009 (UNFPA) are:
• The average global temperature could rise by as much as 6.4 degrees Celsius by the end of this century.24
• As much as 30 per cent of plant and animal species could become extinct if the global temperature increase exceeds 2.5 degrees Celsius.
• One-third of the reef-building corals around the world could become extinct because of warming and acidifying waters.
• Global average sea levels could rise by as much as 43 centimetres by the end of this century.
• Arctic ice could disappear altogether during the summer by the second half of this century.
• One in six countries could face food shortages each year because of severe droughts.
• By 2075, between 3 billion and 7 billion people could face chronic water shortages.