Demolishing Dams
The idea of removing big dams indeed needs to be taken forward before rivers are suicidally interlinked.

And there are a good many alternatives that must be proposed before this is done. Run-of the-river microhydels—which are a lot more relevant and useful to the multitudes—are being drowned to build big dams.

"In a letter to the secretary, Board of Environmental Protection and Pollution Control Board and the organisers of the public hearing, Basant Singh Khaini, a representative of Sarayu Hydroelectric Power Producers in village Bajela of Dhaula Devi block (Almora) wrote that villagers are angry that the 1 MW power generation plant in Rasyuna village along the Sarayu river, which he and his group runs, will be submerged by the proposed 116 kilometre lake of the scheme.

"Our dam has provided 100 families a monthly income of Rs 12,000 and all our share holders are local. This has not only generated power for our area but also stemmed the tide of male migration from our villages", he wrote.

"Your hasty Jan Sunvais, the letter added, are a violation of the provisions of a 2006 notification (amended in 2008), which mandates that sufficient notice must be given to people before any public hearing is held. So stop whining to us about the spurt in our youth migrating to big cities and plains in search of jobs. Your mega project will only give this a further push.

"If you ware keen to talk to us, why did you hold the meetings during the monsoon months knowing well how hard movement becomes when the rains begin?"

This is not the first time that a people's alternative has been ruthlessly destroyed by the state in the name of development.

It is time we looked through to the colonial/imperial core of the very idea of development. Just because the project of colonization is now being carried out by Indians often at the behest of overseas corporations—does not change its essential character.
Aseem Shrivastava, New Delhi

Importing Garbage
Developed countries normally lobby hard to persuade emerging economies to buy their guns, grains and hi-tech products. But pressure is mounting on India to agree to become the world's biggest importer of waste.

The very thought of importing garbage from the rest of the world might sound disgusting. It also goes against the spirit of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan.

However, it is not actually tons of mushy, stinking garbage that western nations want to dump on India—it is solid waste of various kinds, like plastic junk, used paper, metal scrap and electronic trash.

In reality it makes good business sense. Waste can be turned into wealth. Right now China is the No. 1 junk dealer in the world—it imports, reprocesses and sells recycled products for billions of dollars.

The global waste market is very lucrative—currently estimated to be around 20 billion dollars and projected to grow to 30 billion dollars over the next five years.

But China has decided to wash its hands of the whole business—due to health and environmental hazards. China has informed the World Trade Organisation (WTO) that it will ban 24 types of solid waste imports by the end of 2017 in order to protect the health and safety of its citizens.

Developed western countries are devastated. Even though they knew well in advance this would happen sooner or later, they had not made alternative arrangements to dispose of their enormous volumes of waste—8 million tons of it. Now they do not know what to do and where to find a new dumping ground.

In desperation, many of the richest economies on Earth are now looking longingly towards India -and using all their marketing skills to convince ministers and bureaucrats of the Modi government that recycling is the magical solution to India's problems of poverty and unemployment.

The dilemma faced by the West is genuine—they have been dependent on China for over three decades. More than 85 percent of Europe's waste plastic, for example, ends up in China. Globally, 56 percent of waste plastic is exported to China, according to a report by the International Solid Waste Association.

The West is not alone. The Tiger economies of south-east Asia too have similar problems. For years Vietnam, Indonesia and Malaysia had got accustomed to domestically-generated plastic waste to China.
RS, New Delhi

Vol. 50, No.23, Dec 10 - 16, 2017