Need to recycle waste from demolished sites leads to pollution of land, air, water and environment

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By Sheshu Babu*

In cities and towns, houses are being rapidly demolished paving way for construction of flats/ apartments. The house owners are selling their houses for ‘development’ with the intention of making money and the contractors are constructing flats selling each one with huge profit margin.

Rubble created by demolishing structures and the spreading of dust particles in the air is not only causing lung related ailments but also closing ventilation to other residential house s near the constructed flats. Even roads and bridges are being demolished and re- constructed on a regular basis.

C&D (construction and demolition) material consists of debris generated during the construction, renovation and demolition of buildings, roads and bridges. C& D materials often contain bulky heavy materials such as concrete, wood (from buildings), asphalt (from roads and roofing shingles), Gypsum, (the main component of drywall), metals, bricks, glass, plastics, salvaged building components like doors, windows and plumbing fixtures , trees, stumps, earth and rock from clearing sites  (“Sustainable Management of Construction and Demolition Materials”, http://www.epa.gov).

EPA’s waste characterization report  ‘the Advancing Sustainable Materials Management  : 2015 Fact Sheet’ estimates C&D material generation in the United States  generated 548 million tons of debris in 2015  – more than twice the amount of generated municipal solid waste. Demolition represents more than 90% of total C & D debris generation , while construction represents less than 10 percent.

In India,  there is no agreement on the volume of C&D waste. The Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change in 2010 put the annual estimate of C&D waste at  10-12 million tonnes. The central pollution board settled for 12 million tonnes in 2011, but its Guidelines Document of 2017 has upped the estimate to 25-30 million tonnes based on the information from Ministry of Urban Development.The Centre for Science  and Environment swung into action and estimated C&D waste  at a humongous 530 million tonnes in 2017 that include renovation/ repairs of one third of existing buildings.

The most recent estimate of C&D waste is 165-175 million tonnes, jointly prepared by two government agencies , the Building Materials and Technology Promotion Council and the Center for Fly Ash Research and Management. The waste is illegally dumped in vacant areas, beside flyovers, lakes and ponds, open store water drains and low lying areas.

Delhi and Bengaluru are prominent example to indicate the rise of air pollution. The C&D waste in Bengaluru is being used to encroach upon lake bed land for construction. Nations like Germany have developed novel ways of recycling C&D waste by creating  a small hillock outside Stuttgart which now serves as a recreation ground.

The increase of C&D waste leads to pollution of land, air, water and environment that leads to several diseases .

If children are exposed, they easily develop breathing problems. They also suffer severe cough and cold.  Exposure also leads to skin-related diseases.  The pile of rubble creates  havoc during extreme climate conditions. Hence, people should demand that strict laws are made to dispose C&D waste.

For clean air and water, C&D disposal plants should be established in every city. Rubble of the demolished site should be thrown in  remote areas. Construction of apartments/ flats should not be allowed to cover other residential houses. Due to no clear orders  material is  left on the roads without proper arrangement.

Governments should see that no individual suffers as a result of accumulated waste. Multi- storeys flats and construction of high-rise buildings are closing ventilation to houses adjacent to the newly constructed flats.  Sunlight and other natural elements should be allowed to pass through houses. Only then, future of the people might be saved from environmental hazards.

*The writer from anywhere and everywhere supports cleaner, greener cities, towns and villages with equal importance


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