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Air Pollution In India: Can It Become Any Worse And What Can We Do?

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More than 80% of the urban dwellers in the world are bound to endure outdoor pollution that exceeds health standards, as mentioned in the WHO’s World Global Ambient Air Quality Database. A whopping nine out of ten people in the world breathe highly polluted air which goes way beyond the WHO’s standards. However, even among countries gasping for breath, air pollution in India stands out with consistently, epically terrible air quality.

Situation in India

The pollution level in India is increasingly becoming an issue of immediate concern. Today, it ranks even higher than high blood pressure, smoking, child and maternal malnutrition, and risk factors of diabetes. As you read, more than 140 million people are inhaling air which is ten times, or even more, over the safe limit specified by WHO. Also, as unfortunate as it is, 11 of the world’s 12 cities with the highest levels of air pollution are in India. Though India has a low per capita generation of greenhouse gases, the country, on the whole, is ranked the third-largest after China and the United States. Several studies have revealed that Indians have 30% lower lung function as compared to the Europeans.

Air pollution is one of the crucial contributors to the demise of around 2 million Indians every year. In rural areas, most of the emissions come from biomass burning and agriculture-related activities. On the other hand, poor waste management, vehicular emissions, and depleting tree cover contribute highly to the pollution levels in urban areas.

The “gas chamber”

Delhi, the capital of the country, is home to around 19 million people. In the past few years, it has been notorious in choking air which is now turning the iconic white and preserved marble structure of the Taj Mahal green and brown. The city has been facing major pollution crisis for the past few years, with one minister even going to the magnitude of describing it as the “gas chamber.”

Causes of Air Pollution in India

More than a dozen Indian cities are facing severe pollution, but most of the particulates that are suspended in the metro regions originate in the rural areas.

Use of Biomass and chulhas

Rural areas, therefore are themselves affected by just as poor air quality, if not more. Two-thirds of the population of India still stays outside of urban areas, and nearly 80 percent of these households are dependent on biomass like dung and wood for heating and cooking. Chulhas (cookstoves) also contribute to around 25% of the outdoor air pollution in India. Not only this, but their usage also causes indoor pollution, which is extremely hazardous for children’s health, according to the WHO.

Agricultural activities

In addition to this, agrarian activities like burning significant crop stubble also add to the misery. This smoke then wafts over the major cities like Mumbai and Chennai, where it gets mixed with traffic exhaust, construction dust, and factory emissions. India’s mountains and hills also act as basins that trap toxic air over large swaths of the country, most of the time making the air too dangerous to breathe.

Political situation

Another major cause of the consistent rise in pollution levels turns out to be politics. Renowned environmentalists and professors like Kirk Smith, have time and again indicated towards the weak enforcement of anti-pollution laws in India. For instance, though major cities can ban pollution sources like brick kilns within their boundaries, it is impossible to prevent the exhaust from blowing over the perimeter. Hence, it is utterly required to bring in coordinated and comprehensive laws across cities and provinces to see a visible change. However, the constituencies of rural and urban politicians are entirely different, which makes it hard to come to a common ground.

Way forward

As already mentioned, urban-rural and inter-state collaboration is integral to crafting a successful policy. The Air Quality Life Index states that if we can meet the national standards for air quality, life expectancy can up by two years.

The National Clean Air Mission (CAM-INDIA) is a cross-sectoral initiative launched by the Government of India in response to the crisis. It involves the Ministries of Power, Transport, Agriculture, Construction, Environment, Rural Development, and the states. The mission aims to build a pan-India network to monitor air quality and heighten citizen awareness. Along with this, it has a five-year action plan to fight the heightening pollution level in India.

Takeaway:

While policies are being put in place through national and state governments, it is also essential for cities to improve national performance by introducing complementary initiatives. The time has arrived for us to join hands to save our environment for ourselves, as well as the generations to come.

 

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International Law And Pollution: A Brief Discussion

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International Law and pollution
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With the rising level of pollution every year, the topic of international law and pollution is becoming more and more valid with time. With the advancement of technologies and the increase of civilization, the amount of pollution around the world has increased as well. It is the job of international law to ensure that the level of pollution remains under control. Pollution and the International Environmental law are extremely interconnected and the proper understanding of these two can only lead towards the concept of sustainable development.

How does pollution threaten the planet?

Pollution has become a very familiar word for several centuries now. With every year passing, various kinds of pollution are becoming more and more severe for the health of the planet earth. Pollution is the unwelcome intrusion of several contaminants in the nature around us causing the environment to change in a harmful way. Pollution can be of different types-

  • Air pollution
  • Water pollution
  • Noise pollution
  • Plastic pollution
  • Soil pollution
  • Radioactive pollution

And the list never ends.

Pollution is becoming a matter of more and more serious concern over time and we cannot ignore it anymore as it is affecting human health directly. Pollution is responsible for many deadly diseases among humans. It might result in-

  • Respiratory diseases
  • Cardiovascular diseases
  • Waterborne diseases like jaundice, cholera, etc.
  • Cancer

According to WHO, only air pollution is responsible for almost five lakh deaths per year. Radioactive pollution is responsible for the rising numbers of cancer patients around the world.

Pollution is the major cause of damaging the health of the planet earth. The earth and the lives on earth are getting threatened every day by the ill effects of pollution on the environment. Global warming, death of biodiversity are becoming matters of serious concern over time and making the planet inhabitable for any living being. So the discussion of International law and pollution is very relevant in the present time.

International Environmental Law- the definition:

With the rising level of pollution, it has become extremely necessary to control the rate of pollution at any cost in order to save the planet earth. Here comes the importance of International Environmental Law. The main motto of this law is to make sure so that the environment does not get affected in the name of development. It tries to control pollution and pave the way for sustainable development.

International Environmental Law is just a part of the public international law, operating individually from the mid-twentieth century. Public International Law consists of a committee with the representatives of different states in order to peacefully solve the disputes between them.

IEL deals with quite a wide area of issues- starting from the population to climate change. The goal of International Environmental Law is to keep the level of pollution in control and to ensure that earth remains a place for habitation for human beings and other species.

History of foundation:

With the growing realization that the ill effects of pollution are not limited within a particular nation, an international body became required to take control. Based on this, the international environmental law was founded depending on customary international law, treaties made between nations, and international courts.

Customary international law is founded upon several unwritten and popular customary laws of different nations. Based on this, a nation is bound to inform its neighbor about an impending environmental crisis.

The international court resolves the disputes between the nations regarding the matters of pollution.

How to achieve sustainable development?

A proper balance between the workings of international law and pollution may only lead the way of sustainable development. Sustainable development refers to a system where the needs of a generation get fulfilled without making any damage to the environment. Several treaties got signed over the years in order to reach this goal determining various laws of the sea, air, and defining the duties of individual nations for controlling the levels of pollution.

These treaties address the law of the environment as an issue related to human rights. They also distribute the cost of purifying nature based on the capitals of the nations. All these, if implemented correctly may help to achieve the goal of sustainable development.

The presence of international law cannot only control pollution. Proper implementation is what is of utmost importance.

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Pollution

Aquatic Pollution: Definition, Types, And Effects

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Aquatic pollution
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Water is one of the primary ingredients of this planet earth. It is essential for all living beings on this planet. That is why; aquatic pollution is something that is of real concern.

Definition of the term “ Aquatic Pollution”:

Water pollution is the result of the constant contamination of the water bodies of planet earth (starting from lakes to oceans). As the percentage of drinkable water is really limited in comparison to the total amount of water on earth, aquatic pollution has become a matter of serious concern for all of us.

What causes Aquatic Pollution?

The fact that water is the fundamental necessity of every living being makes the water more prone to get polluted by contaminants. Water, by nature, is very much accepting. So, almost every kind of substance gets mixed in water. Due to this, any kind of unhealthy substances emitted by nature or mostly by human beings causes the water sources of the planet to get polluted.

Types and Variations:

Just like the presence of various water bodies, there are different kinds of water pollution as well.

  • Groundwater Pollution:

Groundwater is one of the most important sources of drinkable water. Majorities of people depend on groundwater sources for their everyday needs. Fertilizers and pesticides are the major pollutants in this case. They contaminate the water source from landfills and septic systems. In this way, a majority of the drinkable water gets contaminated. Purifying this contamination can be really costly and difficult. Groundwater pollution spreads and contaminates other water sources as well.

  • Surface Water Pollution:

Water sources available on lakes and rivers are described as surface water sources. Nitrates and phosphates, which are actually nutrients, are the main contaminants that are responsible for the surface water pollution. Although these nutrients are necessary for living entities they pollute the water by getting mixed up with wastages from farms and pesticides. Apart from this, the discharges from municipalities and the industrial belts are responsible for contaminating these surface water sources as well.

  • Ocean Water Pollution:

Although the name is ocean pollution, the cause is associated mainly with the land. Industrial emissions contribute mainly to this. Along with this, wastages from hundreds and thousands of cities around the world get thrown into the ocean causing ocean water pollution. Oil emitted from ship leaks as well as contaminates oceans.

The sources of the pollutants can be various too-

  • Point Sources:

If the source is similar for the various contaminants- it is called point source pollution. For instance, wastewater causes such pollution. Wastewater- discharged either from septic systems, or industries. Although the source of contamination is fixed in this case, this is responsible for affecting a major portion of water sources.

  • Non-Point Sources:

The sources of contamination are different in this case. The sources are various here- starting from agricultural waste to discharges from lands. Because of these various sources, it is harder to regulate this kind of pollution.

How Aquatic Pollution affects us?

Water is one of the primary elements of life. So aquatic pollution affects the primary necessity of all living beings around the planet. The effects of water pollution are various-

  • Human health- If water is known to be the source of life then, to sum up, polluted water is equivalent to death. Millions of people die because of this every year. The number of people getting affected and sick because of drinking contaminated water is more than a billion per year. Some of the water-borne diseases are- cholera, giardia, and typhoid.
  • Environment- Nature is all about balance. Every element of nature keeps the ecosystem intact and working. So, when water, one of the most important elements of this system gets contaminated, other inhabitants get affected too. For instance, algal blooms in several water bodies can make that area devoid of oxygen and devoid of life.

Similarly, when the ocean gets contaminated, it results in killing a lot of living creatures of that ocean. Many of the species have become extinct for the rising aquatic pollution every year.

When it comes to contaminated water, the list of ill effects does not end. That is why; it is extremely important to become more and more aware of this crisis and find a way out of this.

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Bengali Edition

পরিবেশ দূষণ বিশ্বজগতের মানব সভ্যতাকে বিঘ্নিত করছে

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Poribesh Duson
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সৃষ্টির আদিকাল থেকে মানব জগতের সাথে পরিবেশের সম্পর্ক  অতি গভীর। আমাদের চারিপাশে পাহাড়-পর্বত, নদ-নদী, গাছপালা, পশুপাখি নিয়ে গঠিত এই পরিবেশ। মানুষ হল পরিবেশগত জীব। মানুষ উদ্ভিদ এবং জীবজন্তুর সাথে খাদ্য শৃঙ্খলে আবদ্ধ, তাই  মানুষের সুস্থভাবে বেঁচে থাকার জন্য অত্যন্ত প্রয়োজন সুস্থ পরিবেশের । কিন্তু আমাদের পালয়িত্রী বসুন্ধরা আজ আর সুস্থ নেই ।বর্তমান সময়ে আমাদের পরিবেশ দূষণ  ভারে জর্জরিত হয়েছে। এই পরিবেশ দূষণের ফলে মানুষের অস্তিত্ব আজ চরম সংকটে 

পরিবেশ দূষণ কাকে বলে

মানুষের বিভিন্ন কার্যকলাপের থেকে নিঃসৃত ক্ষতিকারক পদার্থগুলি পরিবেশের সঙ্গে সংমিশ্রিত হয়ে পরিবেশ দূষণ এর সৃষ্টি করে। এই পরিবেশ দূষণ  বিভিন্ন প্রকারের দেখা যায় যেমন — জল দূষণ, বায়ু দূষণ, মাটি দূষণ প্রভৃতি। কিন্তু সৃষ্টির প্রথম আলোতে পরিবেশের এমন রূপ দেখেনি মানব জাতি। পৃথিবীতে প্রথম মানব সৃষ্টির সময়  জল, স্থল, বায়ুমন্ডল সম্পূর্ণরূপে বিশুদ্ধ ছিল। মানব সভ্যতার বিজয় রথের ক্রমবর্ধমান আগ্রাসনের ফলে তৈরি হয়েছে পরিবেশ দূষণ।  প্রকৃতিকে অনেক কষ্ট দিয়েছে মানুষ। প্রকৃতির ব্যাথা আজকের মানুষ বোঝে না, বোঝেনা প্রকৃতির যন্ত্রণাটা। সমস্ত সীমা লংঙ্ঘন করে একের পর এক গাছ কেটেছে, প্লাস্টিকের ব্যবহার করেছে, অপ্রয়োজনে নানারকম গাড়ি ব্যবহার করেছে মানুষ। মানুষের চরম নিষ্ঠুরতার জন্য কোথাও তৃণভূমি পরিণত হয়েছে মরুভূমিতে,  সাগরের মাঝে হঠাৎ দেখা গেছে বড় পর্বতের অবস্থান, বায়ুমন্ডলের তাপ বেড়ে যাওয়ার ফলে সুমেরু কুমেরুতে বরফ গলতে শুরু করেছে, ওজোন স্তর ক্ষতিগ্রস্ত হয়েছে —এই সবই মানুষের অকৃতকার্যের ফল। মানুষের অপকর্মের ফলেই আজ ধরিত্রী বড় অসুখের সম্মুখীন হয়েছে।  

পরিবেশ দূষণ কীভাবে মানবজীবনে ব্যাঘাত ঘটাচ্ছে? 

পরিবেশ দূষণ বিভিন্ন রকমের হয়ে থাকে— জল দূষণ, বায়ু দূষণ, মাটি দূষণ প্রভৃতি। বিজ্ঞানের ক্রমবর্ধমান আবিষ্কারের ফলে মানুষ যেমন বিজ্ঞানের সুফল ভোগ করছে তেমনি ভোগ করছে  কুফলও। মানুষ এখন ভালো ফসল ফলানোর লক্ষ্যে উর্বর জমিতে ব্যবহার করছে নানা রাসায়নিক সার ও কীটনাশক পদার্থ। এই উৎপন্ন ফসলগুলি মানুষ খাদ্য হিসেবে গ্রহণ করে নানা মহামারী অসুখের শিকার হচ্ছে। এই কীটনাশক পদার্থ মাটির সাথে মিশে যাওয়ার ফলে সৃষ্টি হচ্ছে মাটি দূষণের এবং মাটির উর্বরতা শক্তি নষ্ট হয়ে যাচ্ছে। মাটির উর্বরতা শক্তি কমে যাওয়ার ফলে ভবিষ্যতে ওই জমিতে ফসল হওয়ার সম্ভাবনাও কমে যাচ্ছে। এই কীটনাশক পদার্থ  জলের সাথে সংমিশ্রিত হয়ে জল দূষণের সৃষ্টি করছে।   জল দূষণের ফলে মানুষ নানা চর্ম রোগ, কলেরা, জন্ডিস প্রভৃতি রোগের সম্মুখীন হচ্ছে। জল দূষণের ফলে বহু মাছের মৃত্যু ঘটছে। মাছের মৃত্যু ঘটার জন্য বিশ্বে মাছের যোগান কমে যাচ্ছে। শহরাঞ্চলের গাড়ির তীব্র হর্ন, মাইকের আওয়াজ শব্দ দূষণের মাত্রাকে  দ্রুত হারে বাড়িয়ে চলেছে। মানুষের পক্ষে ৪১ ডেসিবেলের বেশি মাত্রার শব্দ ক্ষতিকারক, কিন্তু শহরাঞ্চলে অনেক সময় শব্দের মাত্রা ১২৫ ডেসিবেল ছাড়িয়ে যায়, ফলে শব্দ দূষণের সৃষ্টি হচ্ছে। 

পরিবেশ দূষণ প্রতিকারের নিয়ম

শহর ও গ্রামে দৈনন্দিন জীবনের দিকে যদি  চক্ষু মেলিয়া  তাকানো হয়  তাহলে দেখা যাবে বিজ্ঞানলক্ষী তাঁর কল্যাণ হস্তে অকৃপণ সুখ বিলাস বৈভবের ডালি ভরে দিয়েছে। বিজ্ঞানের কল্যাণকর কার্যকারিতা দেখলে স্বাভাবিকভাবেই মনে হতে পারে প্রকৃতির এই অসুস্থতার কারণে জন্য দায়ী এই বিজ্ঞান। বসুন্ধরার অসুস্থতার জন্য দায়ী বিজ্ঞান নয়, দায়ী মানুষের স্বভাব, প্রবৃত্তি, মনোভাব, লোভ ও হিংসা। দূষণের প্রতিকারের জন্য বনাঞ্চল বৃদ্ধি এবং সংরক্ষণের ব্যবস্থা করার প্রয়োজন আছে। পরমাণু বিস্ফোরণ বন্ধ করতে হবে। কলকারখানার ধোঁওয়া নিয়ন্ত্রণ করতে হবে। কলকারখানার এবং শহরের নোংরা জল, বজ্র পদার্থ নদী-নালাতে ফেলা অবিলম্বে বন্ধ করা উচিত। জমিতে রাসায়নিক সার ব্যবহার কমানোর জন্য কৃষকদের নানা প্রশিক্ষণের ব্যবস্থা করা উচিত। শব্দ দূষণের মাত্রা কমানোর জন্য  বিভিন্ন গ্রাম পঞ্চায়েত এবং পৌরসভাকে উদ্যোগি হতে হবে। পরিবেশ দূষণকে রোধ করার জন্য নানা আইন প্রণয়ন এবং আইনের যথাযথ প্রয়োগ করা উচিত। 

উপসংহার

ধরিত্রী মায়ের অসুখের ফলে সম্পূর্ণ মানব জাতি ধ্বংস হয়ে যেতে পারে, হয়তো সেই ভয়েই মানুষ কিছুটা হলেও পরিবেশ রক্ষায় সচেতন হয়েছে। প্রতিবছর ৫ ই জুন দিনটি বিশ্ব পরিবেশ দিবস হিসেবে  পালিত হয়। মানুষের জন্যই এই পরিবেশ দূষিত হয়েছে, তাই মানুষকেই এই পরিবেশকে দূষণমুক্ত করতে নানা ব্যবস্থা গ্রহণ করতে হবে। তবেই হয়তো একদিন সুস্থ পরিবেশ গড়ে উঠবে আর মানব সভ্যতা ধ্বংসের হাত থেকে রক্ষা পাবে। 

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