Global Development Research Center)
This post is a sequel to my previous post on safety in the laboratory. In India, the awareness on waste management can be described in one word - pathetic. Only in high-profile multi-national industries, there is a proper safety system in place. In a nation where anyone who provides employment is more than welcome, this is the trade-off we get. A few points in this sensitive issue:
* Bhopal gas leak - There are/were many more chemical industries in developed nations than in India... Any disaster of this magnitude elsewhere?
* Even in reputed research institutions like IISc, the waste-management was in an appalling state until a few years ago.. The reason? Proper waste disposal was expensive. As a result, bio wastes were dumped on roadside and toxic stinking chemicals would be just drained into the sink and into the soil of the campus. Now, the chemistry departments pay a sum to a waste-picker who takes care of everywaste, thanks mainly to the efforts of my research supervisor.
* In all metros, the junk near the slums has gone out of hand. Chennai's 'Koovam' river's (!??) smell (?!??) is notoriously infamous. Ganga river is spoilt half the way. This is all due to the negligence of a simple fact that, you cant just dump all the waste (domestic and industrial) into any moving water or a open space near where you live.
* In Tiruppur, the textile-center of South India, the underground water is so badly spoilt that people living in the region are affected by unique, hard-to-recover, expensive-to-cure diseases. That was mainly due to the dyeing industry. A few years ago, there was a huge hue and cry on the possible carcinogenic effect of hair dyes and even shampoos. While much of that was unfounded, the fact that the dyes are bad for health is a bitter truth.
* There was a deadlock between the industries, government and the public on this issue about Tiruppur chemical wastes. After a strict supreme court verdict, the industries' negligence was made aware to the public and there was a situation in which the industries might be closed if they dont put their waste refinement into place. It was politicized and the state government has agreed to help setup a water refinery which would purify all the waste water from industries. Certainly a welcome step, though late, but God knows when it would be implemented.
* One thing is for sure - we (industries, government, public, scientists and officials) are notoriously negligent of the danger of this important issue. We are directly and indirectly playing with the lives of our future generation.