Recently several scrap metal dealers were hospitalized due to radiation exposure at Delhi. One of them lost his life due to multiple organ failure and another person is still critically ill.
And more lives will be claimed, because this business of importing hazardous waste from Developed countries, runs into hundreds of crores. It's a roaring business for both the importers as well as the exporters. It is sadly at the cost of the local population and their health.
For the so-called developed countries, it becomes very convenient, because they do not have to do the tough job at hand of recycling, and their backyards remain clean and healthy. More and more hazardous scrap parts get dumped in third world countries like India.
Having said that, recycling is a profitable business, like recycling of aluminium or stainless steel waste, which is environmentally advantageous, mainly because it can be recycled indefinitely and consumes lesser energy. However the problem with this scenario is that, the whole process becomes a facade for dumping of hazardous radio-active substances or even more infectious medical waste, mostly syringes and needles.
While India is on the one hand, the second fastest growing source of greenhouse emissions it is also being projected as a promising market for solid waste management. Therefore huge quantities of waste, be it titanium scrap or battery waste or pharmaceutical waste is imported from abroad. Unmindful of the fact that just the four metropolitan cities themselves produce around 4000 tonnes of waste every single day.!
While recycling is important, while there is a lot of scope for developing state of the art technologies for waste management and for becoming the one-stop shop for solving the world's ecological problems, we have to be as citizens aware and conscious of the fact that it should never be at the cost of our health, environment and that in the process of importing waste and scrap from abroad, we do not conveniently become the world's dump yard.