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Global Environment Issue on Water Pollution
Water is referred to as the key to life. No life can survive without water. Yet water is the most abundant natural resource on the planet and a unique feature that differentiates the Earth from other planets in the solar system. Water is a very important commodity for all living things and more so for the survival of man. It has been the cause of numerous accounts of human conflict as well as human-animal conflicts. The earliest human civilizations formed around mater bodies as was the case in ancient Mesopotamia and Ancient Egypt (Dodds and Pippard). The conflict theory offers valuable insights as to why human beings have and still fight to control this vital natural resource. This paper seeks to invoke the conflict theory in an effort to address the causes and nature of water pollution as a global environmental issue.
Seas and oceans hold most of the Earth’s waters and as such, freshwater which humans need to survive and thrive is in limited supply. Water is also unevenly distributed due to a diverse range of natural factors. Human abuse is a factor that has led to freshwater scarcity. Men have opted to seek political and economic gain at the expense of sustainable water use (Dodds and Pippard). One such region is Ranipet India.
Ranipet Tanning and Chemical Processing Industries
According to Ambiga and AnnaDurai (1), water pollution is directly related to industrial development. Industries need water for different purposes and as such, economical development in the past and at present is highly dependent on the availability of water. India is the second-most populous country on earth and as such has had to employ strategies aimed at developing its economic growth through the creation of different industries. In the past twenty years, India has realized significant growth and as such its future looks quite bright. Unfortunately, India has realized economic development at the expense of its people, the environment and its numerous ecosystems (Rao, Rao, and Ranganathan, 1).
India’s Ranipet region has a vibrant tanning industry consisting of more than 200 tanneries (Rao, Rao, and Ranganathan, 2). Tanning processes involve the application of numerous hazardous compounds. As such, there are numerous small and medium sized chemicals processing industries in Ranipet. Most of the effluence from the tanning and chemical processing factories is released as raw sewage causing severe pollution to the region’s groundwater. This tendency to rely on unsustainable economic development policies has translated into the lack of safe drinking water to the rural areas near Ranipet dependent on ground water.
Economic growth translates to rural to urban migration, increased demand for agricultural products in urban areas, irrigation intensive farming in rural areas as well as increased demand for safe drinking water (Gowd and Govil 197). Industrial growth in the Ranipet industrial area has resulted in the growth of urban centers and more so an increased demand for water for use in tanning processes. As such, the Indian government’s policies on economic development and environmentally sustainable industrial processes have been wanting in the last few years.
Ranipet has a topography that consists of vast areas with hard rock features (Gowd and Govil 1). This implies that ground water lies on the hard rocks and as such, effluence seeping into the soil collects on the hard rock surface. This implies that the industrial sites in Ranipet are the source of polluted groundwater in regions within a one hundred radius. According to the conflict theory, global environmental dilemmas are as a result of two interrelated causes (Dodds and Pippard).
The first cause stems from the economic motivation huge multinational organizations offer tanning and chemicals processing industries operating in Ranipet (Gowd and Govil 192). The second major cause of ground water pollution in Ranipet and its surrounding regions results from the dominance of US as well as other governments from the developed world. As such, these major economic powerhouses have opted to influence governments in the developing world such as India to adopt strategic policies that favor economic growth at the expense of sustainable environmental friendly economic practices. It is worthy noting that these countries have very tough rules and regulation with regard to environmentally sustainable manufacturing practices (Dodds and Pippard). They have instituted and mandated environmental protection agencies which periodically carry out checks to ensure adherence.
Unfortunately, developing countries such as India have weaker bargaining powers when entering in to economic treaties and trade pacts with developed countries (Dodds and Pippard). Multinational organizations dominating the global economy are in essence backed by countries from the developed world. Most of the multinational organizations with strong economic relations with Ranipet’s tanning industries are of European or American origin.
India has the obligation to its people to ensure that economic operations are environmentally sustainable (Dodds and Pippard). In the recent past, this has not been the case. People from the Ranipet region have cited pollution as one of the greatest threat to improved standards of living. Since the leather production industry attracts significant foreign direct investments, 3 million employment opportunities as well as vast capital inflows, a curb on water pollution has been implemented at a very slow pace.
The leather tannin process is said to consume immeasurable amounts of water and toxic chemicals. Sodium and chromium salts are major effluences inappropriately disposed of into surfaces waters (Gowd and Govil 199). These are released in their untreated state and as such are a potent threat to natural life. The fact that highly polluted water seeps into the ground water presents a far more precarious situation for the rural people neighboring these industries. Rural areas are highly dependent on ground water and as such have had to suffer the brunt of using polluted water.
According to Gowd and Govil (198), the general population in India is well aware of health problems associated with the pollution of groundwater. The Tamilnadu state is home to more than 60% of the Indian leather production industry. According to the available literature material, the environmentally unsustainable leather production processes employed in the region have resulted to serious environmental setbacks. For instance, the continued disposal of effluence from the tanning industries has resulted in the loss of more than 50,000 of productive agricultural land as a result of soil and water contamination (Gowd and Govil 198). Hundreds and hundreds of farmers lost their source of livelihood as a result. The workers in these tanneries also suffer significant occupational as well as environmental risks.
As the world’s population grows, there is the need for agricultural land, more water resources and environmentally sustainable economic policies. Water pollution only serves to compound problems associated with water scarcity and as such these are man made problems. Reclaiming the lands lost due to water communication is not only vital but also very expensive. It is therefore important that the wealthy countries as well as huge multinational companies to take charge of the global environmental issues that is water pollution.
Ambiga, K. and AnnaDurai, R. Assessment of Groundwater Pollution Potential in and Around Ranipet Area, Vellore District, Tamilnadu. The International Journal of Engineering and Science. 2013. Web. 21 Feb. 2015. <http://www.theijes.com/papers/v2-i1/AQ02102630268.pdf>
Dodds, Felix, and Tim Pippard. Human and environmental security: an agenda for change. Earthscan, 2013.
Gowd, S. Srinivasa and Govil, K. Pradip. Distribution of Heavy Metals in Surface Water of Ranipet Industrial Area in Tamil Nadu, India. Environ. Monit. Assess 136. 197-207. 2008. Web. 21 Feb. 2015. < http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10661-007-9675-5#page-2>
Rao, G. Tamma, Rao, V. V. S. Gurunadha and Ranganathan, K. Hydrogeochemistry and Groundwater Quality Assessment of Ranipet Industrial Area, Tamil Nadu, India. Journal of Earth System Sciences 122 (3). 855-867. 2013. Web. 21 Feb. 2015. <http://www.ias.ac.in/jess/jun2013/855.pdf>
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