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Saturday, October 2, 2010

Environmental Justice

I had written an earlier blog post:

Industries over Environment

Just saw a program on how indusries (especially foreign industries) are built by covering dried water bodies. Even though these industrial programs have programs towards greening the environment, they have done everything against environment in building these industries in Sriperumbudur, India.

Another earlier blog:
Eco Vs Eco

One future environmental engineer asked me the following question regarding the above blog post:


hello dr.makesh,

Considering your opinion on the Environment Ministry's decision on disallowing Vedanta from mining bauxite in Orissa I have a doubt. Where do you think should we draw a line between environmental importance and economic importance? Since I am new to this field I am still confused what viewpoint to take! I have an opinion that in the name of environmental protection we should not be a barrier to development (in this case bauxite is very important for us too).

Please correct me if I am wrong...

And, my classes have started and I have taken up courses on Solid/hazardous waste management, Chemical Principles of Environmental Design , Environmental Regulations and Policies.

My answer to it:

Thank you for the email. What I am talking about is the greed. We don't have enough forest resources in India. Already deforestation is taking a toll. We need some forest lands to be saved.
I know we need bauxite. If we allow to take the bauxite, do you think our greedy people will stop mining bauxite in limited quantity? NO. They will wipe out the whole area. They will remove the whole hill top, which will affect the environment (soil, land, water, ground water) and affect the climate. This environmental effect also have an economic cost and will easily out number the cost earned by mining.

I am also for economic growth, however it should be sustainable. If they remove hill top and mine, what are the plans to replenish it.

Why India has most tanneries than any other countries?. Is there any tannery or similar industries in Developed nations?. No. Because we just let the effluents directly to the land and do not care about the environment, people (hexavalent chromium is dangerous to people - it affects brain).

Recently I read Indians have the most Swiss bank accounts (more than 1trillion $). If they just spent few percent of that, it will be a most developed nation. Because of greed of money and not caring for our environment, lots of foreign industries are coming into India (on the basis of economic development) and polluting India. We don't have any standards and we do not implement them. Cell phone companies, car companies, etc (long lists) are flocking there. In this case POSCO - a Korea based company is showing interest in our mountains. They have beautiful mountains. Will they remove their hill top? NEVER. What we need to do is - ask them to take care of our environment too. That is what we are lacking. Day by day agricultural lands, forest lands are taken away by industries. It is also becoming dumping ground (I have written so many articles about it). Environmental Pollution will cause more economic damage than what industrial growth economy produces.

Good that you are taking up Solid/hazardous management courses. Regarding Solid waste management - you have to think that prevention is the best option rather than management. But that is not going to happen in the near future. We have to take slow steps. If we don't act now India will lose its natural resources at very fast pace and living conditions will become worst. I hope you got my point. We need economic growth but in a sustainable way.

Pl. concentrate on Environmental Regulations and Policies courses. By studying such courses, young people like you can devise policies to make sure industries have environmental sustainability plans to save the environment that they are destroying. We can bring new industries to make our economy improve, but we need proper regulations and policies in place for that and take care of our great environment.

In this case we not only saved environment, but also indigenous people (who lived there for centuries).

I have traveled to many countries and see the differences (how they protect their environment and how proud they are about it).

If you carefully account for the environmental cost of the environmental deterioration over the years, the development benefits by mining will be negligibly small. (That is what big companies do - give hard blue collar jobs to our people in the name of economy, destroy our resources and leave the mess for us to clean ).

His answer back:

Dr.Makesh,that was such an interesting mail! I have so much to learn from you. I had to read the mail thrice just to comprehend the depth of certain things. You are so very true about so many things,for example, the companies exploiting us and leaving up a mess for us to clean.

I'l surely take up Regulations and Policies seriously.

Hopefully I made a person to take this Environmental Regulations and Policies seriously and help saving our land and environment. These industries who advertise that they are going GREEN, should actually take steps to GO GREEN (even if it is a growing nation where they create their branch).


MakeSH