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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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Monitoring Method May Help To Conserve Lions in India

In the new study, Keshab Gogoi and his colleagues have demonstrated an alternative method for monitoring Asiatic lions

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Lions
Conserving this sub-specie of lions with the use of best scientific methods is a global priority and responsibility, according to authors of the study from the Wildlife Institute of India (WII). Pixabay

An alternative method of monitoring endangered lions in India can help improve estimates of their numbers and also in making informed conservation policy and management decisions.

New conservation practices have helped increase the number of Asiatic lions from 50 to 500 in the Gir Forests of Gujarat.

Accurate estimates are needed for better conservation efforts, according to a study published in the journal PLOS ONE.

The existing methods, particularly a technique known as total counts, can miss some and double-count others. Also, they provide limited information on the spatial density.

Conserving this sub-specie of lions with the use of best scientific methods is a global priority and responsibility, according to authors of the study from the Wildlife Institute of India (WII).

In the new study, Keshab Gogoi and his colleagues have demonstrated an alternative method for monitoring Asiatic lions.

“Our research addresses this priority by developing a robust approach to their population assessment and monitoring, which can be used for all lion populations across the world,” said an author.

Gogoi and colleagues used whisker patterns and permanent body marks to identify lions using a computer programme, and analysed the data with a mathematical modelling method known as ‘spatially explicit capture recapture’ to estimate the lion density.

They also assessed the prey density and other factors that could influence the lion density.

Lion, Predator, Dangerous, Mane, Big Cat, Male, Zoo
An alternative method of monitoring endangered lions in India can help improve estimates of their numbers and also in making informed conservation policy and management decisions. Pixabay

The researchers identified 67 lions of the 368 sightings within the 725 sq km study area in the Gir Forests, estimating an overall density of 8.53 lions per 100 sq km. They found the prey density didn’t appear to influence the lion density variations in the study area.

The lion density was higher in the flat valley habitats (as opposed to rugged or elevated areas) and near sites where food had been placed to attract lions for tourists to see them.

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The study suggests that baiting lions for tourism affects their natural density patterns, in line with other researches that baiting disrupts lion behaviour and social dynamics.

The authors said the alternative monitoring method could be used to assess lions across their range (in India and Africa) and better conservation efforts. (IANS)