The daily news of deteriorating air quality in Indian cities due to industrial pollution has become a regular affair. Recent studies show that industrial pollution in India has risen drastically and has led to a huge loss to the Indian economy in the last few years. Thus, there is an urgent need to understand and address this problem as early as possible and protect the environment from further damage.
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What is industrial pollution
The form of pollution which has industries as its fundamental source is known as industrial pollution. It is the release of waste materials and harmful chemicals in the environment which in turn pollute the air, water and land in various ways.
- Industrial revolution– The advent of industries gave rise to industrial pollution as they used fossil fuels for their energy needs. Fossil fuels emit harmful elements that harm the environment.
- Deforestation– Industries release carbon dioxide in huge amount. Trees balance the level of carbon dioxide present in the environment but due to large-scale cutting down of trees, this balance is being harmed thus causing pollution.
- Lack of planning in industrial growth– Lack of planning in industrial growth gave rise to the problem of industrial pollution. Establishment of industries without planning about proper land use, effects on existing natural resources led to this problem.
- Emission of greenhouse gases-Industries emit a vast range of harmful greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, chlorofluorocarbons(CFCs) etc that harm the living organisms and the natural environment.
- Presence of numerous small scale industries– A large number of small scale industries are growing in India. As they lack huge capital and resources, they try to maximize their profit by using cheap materials that harm the environment.
- Release of toxic chemicals– Various factories with their varying inputs release toxic chemicals in the natural environment. Chemicals like lead, mercury, etc affect the environment adversely.
- Use of obsolete technologies– India being a developing country lags in having a well-developed modern technology to use in its industries. This leads to the generation of large quantities of harmful waste that gets discharged into the natural environment.
- Lack of anti-pollution policies– There is a dearth of anti-pollution policies in India. Industries act according to their needs and demands caring less about the environment.
- Lack of proper methods of waste disposal– Many factories and industrial houses dispose of their waste material without treatment. They dispose of their waste materials in open, sometimes in water bodies thus polluting the environment.
Types of industrial pollution
- Air pollution– The release of harmful gases and smoke from factories in the environment pollutes the air we breathe in.
- Water pollution– Harmful chemicals released by the industrial houses pollute the rivers, streams and groundwater which harm the living organisms dependent on them.
- Land pollution– Release of a huge amount of household and industrial waste has given rise to huge landfills and pollutes the soil.
- Noise pollution– Noise from various machines used in factories cause noise pollution that harms human health and living organisms.
- Radioactive pollution– The release of radioactive waste from nuclear power plants pollutes the environment in various ways.
Effects of industrial pollution
- Global warming– Global warming has emerged as a great threat to the environment in recent days. Gases released by the industries pollute the environment and warm up the atmosphere. This has led to the melting of glaciers in the polar region.
- Environmental degradation– Rising pollution levels are degrading the quality of air, water and land and thus harming the environment as a whole.
- Depletion of the ozone layer– Industries emit harmful gases in the environment. When these gases like chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) reach the atmosphere, they harm the ozone layer which protects us from the harmful ultraviolet rays. When these UV rays reach the Earth surface, they harm living organisms.
- Loss of biodiversity– The rising industrial pollution causes damage to the ecosystem and natural habitats thus causing loss of biodiversity. Many wild animals are becoming extinct because of the industrial effluents adversely affecting their natural habitats.
- Acid rain– Gases like sulphur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxide (NOX) react with water in the atmosphere and fall on the surface in the form of acid rain. This acid rain causes depletion of soil thus depleting the micronutrients present in the soil, deteriorates the buildings made up of marble and limestone and eutrophication (adversely affects aquatic life).
- Disease in living beings– Industrial pollution adversely affects the human health and causes diseases in human beings like respiratory and cardiovascular diseases(air pollution), mental disorders(noise pollution), skin cancer(UV rays), etc.
Major polluting Industries in India
Major polluting industries in India include thermal power plants, textile industry, paper and pulp industry, sugar mills, tanneries, chemical industries, construction industry, beverage industries, the slaughterhouses and so on.
Industrial pollutants commonly found in India
- Sulphur dioxide
- Nitrogen dioxide
- Particulate matter.
- Carbon monoxide
- Organic compounds
- Macroscopic pollutants
- Thermal pollutant
- Industrial waste.
- Radioactive elements.
The magnitude of industrial pollution in India
According to various data released by various organisations, the contribution of environmental pollution is the highest by industries in India. India has a large number of cities in the list of highly polluted cities of the world. Many industrial houses in India are in the ‘red category’. A large number of people lose their lives due to industrial pollution in India. Rising pollution levels have cost many lives in India. Metro cities in India are suffering the worst as they are congested with various industrial houses. Cities like Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata are the best examples. According to the report by the Boston-based Health Effects Institute, the number of deaths in India related to toxic air is somewhere at 1.67 million in 2019 or three deaths per minute. India is one of the leading countries in industrial pollution at the global level. It is high time that these problems are addressed as early as possible.
Pollution in India and constitutional provisions
The Provision of environmental protection falls under the Concurrent List of the Indian Constitution thus giving power to both central and state governments to enact legislation to tackle the problem of industrial pollution in India. Article 48-A and Article 51-A(g) deal with environmental protection in India.
- The government has taken numerous initiatives to control industrial pollution in the country from time to time.
- The government established the Central pollution Control Board in 1974 under the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974. It is the highest organisation in the country dealing with pollution control issues. The functions of the Central Pollution Control Board are to set sector-specific standards, surveillance of more than 5000 industries and so on.
- The Environmental Protection Act, 1986 prohibits the industries from spreading pollution. It gave the central government power to enact legislation to protect the environment. The industries are advised to discharge polluted material in the environment after treatment or according to prescribed rules.
- The government tries to promote cleaner methods of production in Indian industries.
- Introduction of various waste management rules in the areas of Municipal Solid Waste, Plastic Waste, Hazardous Waste, Bio-medical Waste and Electronic Waste.
- Installation of various pollution monitoring devices in various parts of the country.
- The government revises existing environmental standards and formulates policies from time to time to control pollution from industries
- Introduction of National Air Quality index in 2015 and notification of National Ambient Air Quality Standards deals further in dealing with pollution in India.
- Introduction of construction and Demolition Waste Management Rules.
- Introduction of e-waste management rules, extended producer responsibility design for environmental protection and introduction of 3Rs (reduce, reuse and recycle) technology.
The solution to the problem of industrial pollution in India
- Control of sources of pollution has the potential to deal with rising industrial pollution in India. Training of industrial employees, development of better technology for waste disposal and use of environment-friendly raw materials can go a long way in controlling industrial pollution in India.
- The planned location of industries can also cause less damage to the environment.
- Industrial wastes need to be treated properly before disposal.
- Recycling of industrial waste can also help in countering the problem of industrial pollution in India.
- Afforestation can play a major role in monitoring industrial pollution by balancing carbon dioxide emissions in the environment.
- Stringent laws are needed to be in place to control industrial pollution.
- Industries are required to carry out regular environmental impact assessments to solve the negative effects of preconceived plans of production and location.
- Last but not the least, raising awareness among various stakeholders can play a lasting role in controlling industrial pollution.
As time passes, the menace of industrial pollution is taking a toll on humans and the environment. Although industries have a huge contribution to the Indian economy, there is a need that this menace is dealt with and hence, all the stakeholders should come together, develop a proper agenda and try to deal with the problem efficiently.