“The Dump Killed My Son”

July 9, 2018

Dear Reader, welcome to my blog;

A striking article in the NY Times started as “The Dump Killed My Son”. Those were the heart-piercing words of the 19 year old victim, Abhishek Gautam’s  mother. Gautam was one of the victims of a waste tower collapse of the 17-story high “mountain” waste pile that had long past its height limit in Ghazipur, India.  Polluted air from trash piles posing health risks to communities is not uncommon to hear about these days but the problem going to such an extend is far more saddening and upsetting.

To address the problem, the Indian government promised to eliminate single use plastic by 2022. The news mention that the government was slow to take action in protecting the environment and that the politicians do not want to make tough decisions that can create a risk to loose votes.

Apparently, bureaucratic gridlock due to the power being shared among local and national governments makes it more difficult to introduce some rules. I was surprised as I read on that trashcans have not been installed around Delhi. One other obstacle to an ideal solution mentioned in the news is the conflict that will arise with Delhi’s informal recycling industry. Ragpickers remove plastic from the dumps and sell them in the recycling market. Finding land for new dumps is also another issue that stands in the way. Although, the governing party introduced the Clean India Mission and waste management rules to deal with the problem, with so many obstacles, I think the right solution seems unlikely to approach fast.

Delhi is not the only city in the world that experiences waste management problems. Although the harm is more obvious in densely populated developing countries than in developed countries, it is a worldwide problem, which grows everyday. Firstly, the toxic air and the diseases associated are a huge problem. According to the article common diseases are pus-filled skin infections, suffocating asthma attacks and heart arrhythmia.  Second, using land to dump trash is a very inefficient method in a world further constrained by land as population grows.

I think that governments should give more importance to facilitating and accelerating waste management solutions to optimize land, prevent the health risks and tragedies like Gautam’s death. Meanwhile, we as individuals should be more aware about how we handle trash. Reusing, recycling and avoiding single use plastics and etc. are simple steps that we can take  will help handle the waste problem.

Thank you for reading, see you in a future post.



Published on July 9th, 2018

Last updated on April 1st, 2021