Bhopal was the world’s worst industrial disaster. The sudden public and political interest in Bhopal should push us to think of industrial production and the environmental and health damage it causes.
Bad enough, we don’t know much about the process, but we can test and guess.
Much harder is the other end — the product. It’s impossible to know if your red kurta was coloured using dyes manufactured in Gujarat’s notorious Vapi-Ankaleshwar belt. I’ve been there. Apart from a rash that gave me company for the next two months, I also saw a red dog-coloured by his polluted environment. Many of us buy whatever we do because without information, we don’t have adequate choices.
We need a new system of publically available information about industrial production. This must include data about the raw materials in a product, at least for manufacturers making above a certain quantity, to begin with. It should include the source of these raw materials, down to the factory.
Make it even easier initially-pick a sector. How about garments-did you know cotton uses 10% of the world’s pesticides? Whatever we do, a key means of cleaning up industrial production is putting out life cycle information out there for everyone to know.
Let the Water Seep
Monsoon means an opportunity to harvest water. Most Indian cities fail miserably, because we don’t create the capacity and destroy whatever we do have by cementing the ground. Take Delhi, whose facelift involves cementing great chunks. Even areas close to the Yamuna have now been concretised.
This won’t help us combat climate change, flooding or even get water for our daily needs. But you can do something locally-take a walk and identify any area that doesn’t need to be paved to serve its purpose. It could be a carpark, or a path across a real park. If it is paved over, join hands with neighbours and simply break the tiles, so you can see the mud beneath. It won’t look beautiful, but it will be a good for the planet.