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Garbage a Ticking Time Bomb in India, Will Have ‘Disastrous Consequences’ if Not Checked

They suggested empowering of local urban bodies and municipalities to deal with the crisis

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Plastic pollution.
Pollution caused due to plastic. Pixabay

By Saket Suman

The boom that followed India’s economic liberalisation in the 1990s led to an “exponential increase” in the accumulation of garbage while also changing athe very nature’ of litter generated. This “storm of waste” is a ticking time bomb and could have disastrous, fatal and horrifying consequences if not checked, say Robin Jeffrey and Assa Doron, who have co-authored the monumental “Waste of a Nation: Garbage and Growth in India”.

Doron, an Associate Professor of Anthropology and South Asia Studies at the Australian National University, once went to Seelampur on the outskirts of Delhi and was “horrified” to see the manner in which old mobile phones — e-waste — were being treated.

He immediately and approached Jeffrey, a visiting research professor at the Institute of South Asian Studies in Singapore, saying: “This is huge, we need to study garbage in India,” thus beginning the research for the book.

“Since India’s boom in the 1990s and the aftermath of its economic liberalisation, the volume of waste has increased exponentially and the nature of waste has changed too. This boom has also produced construction and demolition waste, the hazardous waste and the plastic and the fast-moving consumer waste,” Doron told IANS on the sidelines of the Jaipur Literature Festival.

India, for example, had a culture of using biodegradable plates instead of plastic plates that you see all around today, he said.

Garbage dump (representational Image), Wikimedia

“All of these together make an almost perfect storm of waste which is very difficult to tackle unless you do it at different levels of governance,” he added.

His co-author Jeffrey, on the other hand, said that there is some value in the waste and the people who work in the landfills extract that value.

“While you got to extract that value out of the garbage, it must must follow a certain procedure,” Jeffrey told IANS.

He said this complexity applies to all kinds of waste. “You have to find out who is throwing it, why is he throwing it, is there a need to throw it, who is the first person to handle it and then where can it go to have a new life.”

“The pharmaceutical industry is centred now in India because certain ventures are not profitable anymore in the West. These multinationals have outsourced their companies to India, particularly Hyderabad, which has emerged as the pharmaceutical capital of India. A lot of what they discharge into the waterbodies and in the soil are active ingredients. They are creating a bacteria-resistant environment, what is also known as superbugs.

Yamuna River in New Delhi, India. (Pollution, environmental, Scavengers at work in the Yamuna at Qudesia Ghat, Boat, Garbage)

“It’s disseminating and killing the fields, its harming the livelihood of the people who live in the periphery of these companies. It’s creating new bugs that even the most powerful antibiotics cannot tackle. So you have a situation where effluents produced as a result of bringing new industries in india, or creating special economic zones, is actually harming India in the long run. There has to be better planning and corrective measure need to be applied,” anthropologist Doron said.

Jeffrey said that life expectancy for those working and living around landfills in India is just 39 years as respiratory diseases and infections are common among them.

Also Read- Indian Origin Team Develops Model For Safer Self-driving Cars

They suggested empowering of local urban bodies and municipalities to deal with the crisis.

“At the moment they have the responsibility but they do not have the wherewithal, not do they have enough trained staff,” said Jeffrey, while Doron added that local governments need to partner with civil society and the people who are already on the ground dealing with waste. They need to be made aware of the serious health implications, and “trained in extracting value from waste without hampering the environment or causing serious health implications” to themselves or those around them. (IANS)

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Dynamics of Tourism Growth in India

Ensuring that the tourism infrastructure supply chain is seamless will require not just creating a consistent and informative process

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Tourism, Growth, India
Fundamentally, for the robust long-term growth of the tourism sector, India must ensure that it is offering an eco-system that is attractive and consistent. Pixabay

The dynamics of industrial growth in India, for all ancillary industries, makes for fascinating reading and analysis. India has embarked on a renewed push towards making the country an attractive tourist destination through a variety of measures such as the “Incredible India 2.0” campaign. Both local and international destinations have wooed domestic Indian tourists. Regardless of whether one considers inbound or outbound tourism, the tourism supply chain provides exciting opportunities for investors and provides pointers towards much-needed infrastructure developments.

At a fundamental level, as India looks to develop further this component of the economy derived from tourism, it is vital to focus on the convergence of marketing & branding (read availability of information regarding possible tourist destinations), accessibility and local infrastructure such as hotels, eateries, transportation and medical facilities. Fundamentally, for the robust long-term growth of the tourism sector, India must ensure that it is offering an eco-system that is attractive and consistent.

Ensuring that the tourism infrastructure supply chain is seamless will require not just creating a consistent and informative process that generates tourist interest, but also a back-to-front infrastructure linkage that delivers the experience. For instance, a trip to the Taj Mahal via the Delhi Airport and the expressway linking Delhi to Agra is vital to ensuring that the branding and marketing of a tourist destination deliver value.

A closer look at the example stated above throws light upon the importance of the airline connectivity, highway and airport infrastructure involved. Additionally, the availability of the local hospitality industry that caters to the spectrum of incoming tourists at the tourist destination is vital. One missing piece in the link renders all other assets relatively incapable of realising full value. On the contrary, a seamless infrastructure linkage system ensures that the various components in the supply chain can operate close to full potential to generate value.

Tourism, Growth, India
At a fundamental level, as India looks to develop further this component of the economy derived from tourism, it is vital to focus on the convergence of marketing & branding (read availability of information regarding possible tourist destinations). Pixabay

For example, exceptional air connectivity to a tourist destination and the availability of hotel infrastructure that caters to a broad spectrum of tourists is rendered relatively ineffective in generating significant tourist traffic without the last-mile road connectivity required between the airport and the final tourist destination. It is vital to underscore that the focus isn’t only on the international tourist, but on both foreign and domestic tourists.

Essentially, as the interlinkages mentioned above will improve, so will the volume of tourist traffic. The capacity for both the government and investors to further develop the cornerstone of the tourism infrastructure linkage stated above has significant multiplier effects for investment opportunities in linked sectors. The luggage industry is a classic example of a sector that will provide investment avenues as the Indian tourism industry develops further. Additionally, not only will the ancillary industries such as luggage grow, but they will also grow in terms of segmentation. With gradually rising incomes, opportunities will be created not just by aggregate market size growth but by tapping into segments such as higher-end luggage demand.

The key takeaway is that as basic tourism infrastructure will grow, linked industries such as luggage, banking and foreign exchange service providers will flourish. Opportunities through market disruptions must be viewed by investors as an avenue to get into growth segments that benefit from tourism growth in India. The opportunity to acquire a foreign exchange business from a larger business group or to get a foothold within the luggage industry must be viewed as an opportunity to tap into the tourism potential.

Indian tourism opportunities must be viewed through a wider lens of tourism that not only caters to traditional hospitality but also builds on the niche opportunities available. Medical tourism is an area that has seen significant growth in the past years and with the infrastructure ecosystem providing support will grow further.

Also Read- Vietnam and Australia to Start Collaborating on Science Initiatives

However, segments such as the meetings (both national and international), incentives, conventions and exhibitions (MICE) and wedding destination need more significant focus in India. Infrastructure creation that will allow India to gain a foothold in the MICE tourism space gradually is vital. Not only will there be direct earnings, but existing hospitality assets will be able to ramp up their returns on the back of adequate MICE infrastructure.

The tourism industry going further offers significant opportunities to India to generate jobs, more GDP and investment opportunities. Further building on the available opportunities through a well-planned and holistic approach is urgently required. (IANS)