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8 examples of India's struggle with waste
India prospers, but its streets and rivers are choking on ever-more garbage.
November 11, 2009
Liquid Dumps (1/8)
A Hindu devotee takes a holy dip in the polluted waters of the Yamuna river in northern India. India has spent nearly 500 million dollars on waste-treatment stations along the river, but pollution levels doubled from 1993 to 2005.
Nearly 80 percent of the river's pollution is the result of raw sewage. The river receives more than three billion liters of waste per day, according to the Delhi based Centre for Science and Environment.
Waste Management (2/8)
A boy looks for recyclable materials on a beach in Mumbai. With a population of over 1 billion people, and a fast growing urban society fashioning its lifestyles after the West, massive increases of waste seem unavoidable in India.
Disposal of waste in a country where municipal waste management systems are already weak will become a problem of severe proportions.
Polluted Seas (3/8)
A child walks through plastic waste on a sea front in India's financial capital Mumbai. Non-organic waste dumped in rivers and sewers invariably ends up in India's seas.
India's rapid urbanization is aggravating the situation culminating in a rise in waste from less than 40,000 metric tons per year in 2000 to over 125,000 metric tons by the year 2030, according to the environmental advocacy group Srishti.
Living on a Landfill (4/8)
An Indian boy collects plastic bags from a heap of garbage in the Indian city of Allahabad. Shreekant Gupta of the Delhi School of Economics estimates that losses from environmental pollution are equivalent to about 4 percent of gross domestic product.
Poorly maintained landfill sites are prone to groundwater contamination. Open dumping of garbage creates conditions ripe for disease vectors such as flies, mosquitoes, cockroaches, rats, and other pests.
Health Hazard (5/8)
A boy plays in a garbage dump where hundreds of people stay and make a living out of recycling waste and making charcoal. In many developing countries, rag pickers provide a crucial service to society, but often lack recognition and social security. Unaware of health risks, they spend their days inhaling toxic fumes or exposed to poisonous waste products.
Organic Waste (6/8)
Birds fly over a burning garbage dump in search of food on the outskirts of New Delhi. Incineration is often no option in India, because average waste content does not provide enough fuel value and needs auxiliary fuel or energy. Composting organic materials, however, could reduce the amount of material dumped by 50 percent, estimates Gopal Krishna of the Delhi-based Centre of Social Medicine and Community Health.
A worker cleans spare parts at an automobile recycling shop in Mumbai. Indian workers earn between 150 Rupees and 200 Rupees (around $3 to $5) a day working in the city.
Without education and other economic prospects, millions of India's poor urban migrants have to make a living as rag pickers. They roam the streets looking for recyclable materials that can be sold to scrap dealers.
Slumdog Millionaire (8/8)
Shahrukh Munshi, who acted in the multiple Oscar-winning film "Slumdog Millionaire", plays with friends at Nehru Nagar slums in Mumbai.
The movie brought the tough life of India's poorest onto the big screen. Portions of "Slumdog Millionaire" were shot in the Nehru Nagar slums.