Items filtered by date: April 2020

The Earth System which is made of Ecosphere and Anthroposphere is facing disturbance in its stable environment because of human activities. Water, the bloodstream of the biosphere, determines the sustainability of living systems. The diverse uses of freshwater are because of its very unique physico-chemical and biological properties. Beside direct consumption, man uses water for various domestic purposes, food production (agriculture and aquaculture), industry, production of energy, transport and recreation.

As for human beings, our need for water is unfortunately directly proportional to the amount we waste it.  Like most natural resources, water is renewable. However, a lesser known fact is that because of human intervention, in 10-12 decades, water will become a non-renewable resource and here’s an alarming fact that it is depleting fast. Serious efforts are not being made to conserve the surface water and groundwater resources. India extracts around 251 cubic kilometer groundwater, annually, which is 25% of the total global annual extraction. China and the US follow, but together they don’t account for as much as India extracts on its own. India’s groundwater use has grown exponentially over the decades. 

The Dynamic Ground Water Resources of India are being periodically assessed jointly by Central Ground Water Board (CGWB) and State Governments. As per the 2017 assessment, Total Annual Ground Water Recharge is 432 Billion Cubic Meter (BCM) and the Annual Extractable Ground Water Resource is 393 BCM. The Annual Ground Water Extraction for all uses is 249 BCM. The Stage of Annual Ground Water Extraction for all uses (irrigation, industrial and domestic uses) over Annual Extractable Ground Water Resource, is 63% for the country as a whole. Out of the total 6881 assessment units (Block/ Taluks/ Mandals/ watersheds/ Firkas) in the country, 1186 units in 17 States/UTs have been categorized as ‘Over-exploited’ where Annual Ground Water Extraction is more than Annual Extractable Ground Water Resource. As per India Environmental Portal, state-wise details indicated that Tamil Nadu, Punjab, Rajasthan, and Delhi are the most affected states . 

Government of India has launched the Jal Shakti Abhiyan which is a time bound campaign with a mission mode approach intended to improve water availability including ground water conditions in the water stressed blocks. Central Ground Water Authority (CGWA) has issued directions under Section 5 of “The Environment Protection Act, 1986” for mandatory Rain Water Harvesting / Roof Top Rain Water Harvesting for all target areas in the Country including UTs. While granting ‘No Objection Certificate (NOC)’ for drawing ground water, CGWA insists for mandatory rain water harvesting as per the guidelines issued.

Besides government efforts, every citizen must also start individual efforts to ensure fulfillment of water demands of our current and future generations are met, for example by fixing UPOs (Usage Point Optimizers) on taps, grey water harvesting, RO water harvesting, drip irrigation and choosing squat pans over western toilets or optimizing flush tanks.


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Waste management is all of the activities that handle waste materials, from the time it is made to its disposal. This includes how your business collects, transports, processes, recycles or disposes its waste. 

Managing what you waste in your business can equate to lost opportunities or profits.

Waste management is about being more efficient with raw materials and making the most of each stage of the production process. It is about how garbage can be used as a valuable resource. Waste management is something that each and every household and business owner needs. Waste management disposes of the products and substances that you use in a safe and efficient manner. 

Humans generate a great deal of waste as a byproduct of their existence. Every task, from preparing a meal to manufacturing a car, is accompanied with the production of waste material. This cannot be used for other things and needs to be disposed effectively. If not handled appropriately, waste can be transferred into a huge problem. 

On the generation end, waste management agencies have placed an increasing focus on reducing waste so that there is lesser waste to cope with. This can be done on an industrial level by developing more efficient processes, reducing packaging and so on. Individual consumers can also make a commitment to try and generate less waste. 

India’s urban population of 429 million citizens produce a whopping 62 million tonnes of garbage every year. Out of this, 5.6 million tonnes is the plastic waste, 0.17 million tonnes is the biomedical waste, 7.90 million tonnes is hazardous waste and 1.5 million tonnes is e-waste. A staggering figure of forty-three million tonnes of solid waste is collected annually, out of which only 11.9 million is treated which is 22-28%, while about 31 million tonnes of waste is left untreated and dumped at the landfill sites. 

Major metropolitan cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad, Bengaluru and Kolkata generate about 10 million tonnes of garbage every day. The problem is not the enormous amount of waste generation, but how a huge chunk of garbage is remained untreated every single day. 

Planning the waste management and re-cycling for all of the waste produced in this country is an enormous task. It involves both logistical planning and scientific knowledge and understanding to balance the impact on the environment, also the cost-effectiveness of the process. 

In India, the National Environmental Policy, 2006 suggests measures for controlling various forms of environmental pollution. It emphasis on the need for collection and treatment systems for recycling waste and devising measures for environmentally safe disposal of residues. 

The key to efficient waste management is to ensure proper segregation of waste at source. It also needs to ensure that the waste goes through different streams of recycling and resource recovery. Then reduced final residue is deposited scientifically in sanitary landfills. Sanitary landfills are the ultimate means of disposal for unutilized municipal solid waste from waste processing facilities and other types of inorganic waste that cannot be reused or recycled. Major limitation of this method is the costly transportation of MSW to far away landfill sites. 

A report by IIT Kanpur found the potential of recovering at least 15% of waste generated every day in the country. The report also said that it could provide employment opportunities to about 500000 rag-pickers. The report added that despite immense potential in big cities in this area, participation from non-profits or community is limited.

Mumbai has only three dumping grounds to handle the 9,600 metric tonnes of waste generated daily. The major garbage heaps here is as tall as a five-six storey building, standing 15 metres high. 

New Delhi, the capital city generates around 9000 metric tonnes of waste every day and is already sitting on ticking garbage bomb!

Talking about solid waste, according to a Central Pollution Control Board report, Maharastra tops in solid waste generation by generating over 26,820 tonnes of solid waste per day. Mumbai comes first as it generates 1,20,000 tonnes of e-waste annually. Delhi and Bengaluru are ranked second and third with 98,000 and 92,000 tonnes of e-waste generation respectively. The biggest threat to our environment comes from plastic. 60 major cities in India together complete over 3,500 tonnes of plastic waste every day, with cities like New Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Ahmedabad and Hyderabad being the biggest culprits.

Research also shows that if India continues to dump untreated garbage at its current rate, then we will need a landfill of size 66,000 hectares which is 10 metres high and can hold 20 years worth of waste. That is almost 90% of Bengaluru’s area.

In the modern world burying all of our rubbish is not a sustainable solution. While primitive humans produced very little waste, and that which was produced would biodegrade quickly, modern humans produce much larger amounts of waste, much of which is not biodegradable. Additionally, many types of waste may be damaging to the soil, ground water and surrounding habitat. 

The most important reason for waste collection is the protection of the environment and the health of the population. 

Waste collection companies also sort the garbage into recyclable columns. Recycling not only helps in conserving our natural resources but also reduces the cost of production of many products. Glass, oil, plastic, paper can all be recycled which will ultimately put less pressure on natural resources to be manufactured. 

Lastly, waste management helps in conserving our planet’s natural beauty. Landscapes can be ruined through littering and places of tourist attraction can lose their attraction. It is also like blight for those who live in areas where waste collection and recycling is not managed effectively and responsibly. There are many challenges are getting faced by the waste management and recycling industries in India, but there are also a lot of excellent works going on to secure effectively and  ecologically sustainable recycling process.

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Anthropogenic activity of greedily devouring the earth’s resources led to, in return, destruction of the protective green cover and pollution of air, water and soil. There is lack of firm desire to protect the earth from devastating impacts. One of global impacts is global warming which has disturbed the ecological balance and put the existence of earth on anvil. Another equally important impact is desertification being the demon affecting environment and social life in most of the countries in the world.

Desertification is defined as a type of land degradation in which relatively dry land region becomes increasingly arid and infertile, typically losing its bodies of water as well as vegetation and wildlife

As is observed elsewhere, the desertification in India is affected by multiplicity of factors. Some of these factors are overgrazing, over-exploitation, deforestation, inappropriate irrigation, population pressure, urbanization, poverty, inequitable sharing of resources and so on. There is lack of dedicated efforts among the government and public to implement the measures to combat desertification.

The report published in India Today on June 2018 is shocking that around 105.19 million ha of the India’s total geographical area of 328.73 ha is being degraded while 82.18 million ha is undergoing desertification. Removal of green cover, inappropriate irrigation, excess use of inorganic fertilizers, absence of soil conservation measures lead to degradation of land, the continued degradation of land finally set the process the desertification. This is the vicious cycle of desertification.

Loss of soil cover due to water erosion i.e. rainfall and surface runoff or wind erosion are some of the severe impacts for desertification. Around 10.98% of desertification in India has been due to loss of soil cover, which is precious non-renewable resource. Water erosion occurs both in hot and cold desert areas. Wind erosion is responsible for the spread of sand by various processes, even upto lofty altitudes of Himalayas. Soil is removed by this process

Increasing desertification is serious threat in India, leading to destruction of agriculture and large number of suicide deaths of farmers in India. It is the fundamental threat to the Indian agriculture. According to the State of India’s Environment 2017, the threat is experienced more in eight states namely Rajasthan, Delhi, Goa, Maharashtra, Jharkhand, Nagaland, Tripura and Himachal Pradesh, where around 40 to 70 per cent of land has undergone desertification. Apart from this, about 26 of total 29 Indian states have an increase in the area undergoing desertification in the past 10 years. 

The major environmental impacts of desertification are reduction in agricultural soil, reduction in green cover of the nation, reduction in biodiversity, and change in local biodiversity. Social impacts include forced migration of many people. Young people leave the area to work in cities and towns, thus putting pressure on local urban resources. Shortage of fodder and food led to malnutrition and famine as in Ethiopia. The people start moving to refugee camps. There is increased poverty due to reduction in agricultural productivity and livelihood, 

Preventive and corrective management measures are required to be adopted to combat desertification. Some of the measures are given below.

  • Improve small-scale irrigation projects,
  • Restore natural vegetation cover,
  • Plantation of drought tolerant shrubs and grasses to help bind the soil and prevent further soil erosion,
  • Tree plantation should be carried out,
  • Grazing should be planned and controlled,
  •  Build more dams to store run off water,
  • Crop rotation by the farmers to improve the soil quality.

Desertification and land degradation are affecting the agricultural production in India. Getting cognizance of this, the Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change (MOEF&CC), Government of India, New Delhi, Space Applications Centre (SAC), and ISRO, Ahmedabad along with 19 concerned partner institutes carried out inventory and monitoring of desertification of the entire country using Remote Sensing Satellites (IRS) data in Geographical Information Stem (GIS). Environment Atlas of maps of the states in India indicating the land degradation / desertification areas was released jointly by MoEF&CC and Arid Zone Forest Research Institute (AFRI) on the occasion of World Day to Combat Desertification on June 17, 2016.

There is hope that with the efforts of government and the public movement for controlling the desertification, the majority of degraded land would be restored to productive land that would have positive impact on the environment and social life.


Dr. Pramod R. Chaudhari

Ex-Deputy Director, CSIR-NEERI, Nagpur, Maharashtra, India

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