I recently came across the article India’s Pollution Nightmare: Can it be Tackled?, in which the author, Govindasamy Agoramoorthy, talks about three big perils plaguing India – polluting tanneries, lead contamination from informal battery recycling, and riverside industries that dump toxic waste into the India’s waters. He closes his argument with a paragraph on what must be done in order for India to “escape its enduring environmental nightmare.”
Well, Mr. Agoramoorthy, I am glad to say that some the solutions you point out in your piece are already taking place. I know because we are involved. Blacksmith Institute has been cleaning up toxic sites in India for a decade now, working in partnership with the government and local communities. In fact, the example you mentioned in Gujarat State – where worms were used to eat up the toxins in soil – was a Blacksmith project that we are indeed working to replicate.
This year, our work plan for India includes identifying polluted communities, starting more remediation, and raising funds – three things you mentioned. In Tamil Nadu, working with the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board, we plan to assess more lead battery recycling sites, work with the industry to improve recycling practices, and develop projects to address lead contamination. In Hyderabad we are presenting a workshop on remediation methods.
In the bigger picture, we are also assisting the government at the state and national levels to develop and implement a sustainable structure to deal with ongoing toxic pollution. And we are working on identifying and adding more information about toxic sites in India to our global database of polluted sites. This inventory will guide us in our cleanup.
So to answer your question, yes we think India’s “pollution nightmare” can be tackled. India is a big country. It will take time and we have to set priorities. So we are concentrating our efforts first on the worst polluted sites where people are most at risk. Then site by toxic site, we will begin to erase pollution from India’s memory.