The Need for Action

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					                     The Need for Action

2.1 What are the environmental problems?
     Four criteria have been used for defining environmental problems:
       the magnitude of health impacts associated with an environmental feature (health
      the relative impact of the feature on the poor and vulnerable groups
  (distributional criterion);
     the size of productivity losses (efficiency criterion); and
     stakeholder priorities (social acceptability criterion).

     Crucially, what is and is not a problem often depends on an individual‟s socio-
     economic position.

2.2 A Wide Range of Environmental Risks and
     There are wide disparities in disease and death rates between areas and groups,
     related to differences in standard of living, social and basic environmental
     conditions. Some of the wide range of environmental risks in the CMA are
     outlined in Table 2.1. The impacts of the risks vary considerably, with water /
     waste related risks likely to have a disproportionate short term impact on the
     health of the urban poor and young - they are most exposed to the problems
     related to the water / sanitation / hygiene complex (Figures 2.1 and 2.2).

                   Figure 2.1: Threats to Life Vary with Age

                  % of Deaths in Each

                      Age Group
                                               <5        5-14        15-24       25-34      35-44      45-54      55-64   65+
                                                                                  Age Group
                       Source : Howrah Municipal Corporation 1990-93

                                        Diarrhoeal Disease (ICD)              Asthma, Bronchitis Emphyema (ICD 490 - 493)

Table 2.1: Environmental Risks in the CMA

         PROBLEM                             RISKS / IMPACTS                     KEY INDICATORS /
         CLUSTER                                                                   DESCRIPTION
        Water /                                     Risks of GE       Water Supply
        Wastes                                 diseases through               Exposure to bacterially
                                               faecal                    contaminated surface waters.
                                               contamination:                 Chemical contamination of
                                               especially critical       water sources
                                               for poor and
                                                                              Bacterial contamination of
                                               vulnerable groups
                                                                         water at point of consumption
                                               and those less than
                                               14 years old                   Over abstraction of
                                                                         groundwater leading to loss of
                                                    Threats to
                                                                         source and subsidence
                                               water supply
                                               sources - switching            Deterioration of water quality in
                                               costs are likely to       large recreational lakes:
                                               be high                Sewerage and Sanitation
                                                    Long term                 Inadequate provision of
                                               health risks from          sanitation and sewerage facilities in
                                               toxic contaminants         the CMA - 24% of the CMA
                                                                          population outside the CMC and
                                                                          HMC areas do not have access to
                                                                          any sanitation facilities.
                                                                              Limited treatment of waste
                                                                      Storm Water Drainage
                                                                                  Flooding in the monsoon
                                                                             season - Very few municipal towns
                                                                             in the CMA have adequate storm
                                                                             water drainage facilities
                                                                                  Encroachment and siltation of
 PROBLEM         RISKS / IMPACTS                 KEY INDICATORS /
 CLUSTER                                           DESCRIPTION
                                            the deltaic canal system in Calcutta
                                            which has further exacerbated
                                            stormwater disposal and flooding
                                         Waste Management
                                                  Widespread uncontrolled
                                             dumping of domestic and industrial
                                             wastes and uncleared vats and
                                             heaps in urban areas
                                                  Disposal of large volumes of
                                             MSW by crude dumping on land
                                             resulting in pollution of both
                                             underground and surface water by
                                                  Uncontrolled disposal of
                                             hazardous wastes.
Air / Noise             Risks of         Indicators
                  immediate health               Annual - mean SPM
                  effects (e.g. acute       concentrations are very high.
                  respiratory                    Oxides of nitrogen (NO x),
                  ailments), delayed        concentrations have displayed an
                  effects (e.g.,            increasing trend since 1990.
                  chronic bronchitis)
                                                 Street level measurements
                  and mortality risks.
                                            also show high levels of lead,
                        High levels of      volatile organic pollutants and
                  lead pose long            SPMs
                  terms health risks     Sources
                        *Poor indoor              Power Plants are the largest
                  air quality is a           emitters of air pollutants within the
                  potential health           CMA , accounting for 34% and 61%
                  hazard especially to       of total NOx and SO2 emissions. Fly
                  the urban poor who         ash disposal is also a problem.
                  live in bastis and
                                                  Industry and Commerce: it is
                                             roughly estimated that industries
                                             contribute about 43% and 30% of
                                             the total SPM and SO2 emissions.
                                             Operation of diesel fuelled
                                             generators is the primary source of
                                             air pollution within the commercial
                                                  Households: Fuel used for
                                             cooking is the main source of
                                             indoor pollution. Excessive smoke
                                             and soot caused by burning of coal
                                             in Chulhas
                                                  Transport: Growth in the
                                             number of vehicles coupled with
                                             congested traffic all contribute to
                                             adverse air quality especially in
                                             areas adjacent to the main traffic
                                             arteries. Traffic contributes
                                             significantly to the total NO x and
                                             CO emissions within the CMA. High
                                             levels of lead and volatile organic
                                             contaminants are also of deep
Land / Shelter        Overcrowding               Degradation of Natural Land
 CLUSTER                                     DESCRIPTION
/ Built        contributes to          Resources: Infilling of waterbodies
Environment    communicable            and wetlands, loss of agricultural
               disease                 land and open space. Urban
               transmission,           expansion on to ecologically
               diarrhoea and           sensitive areas (e.g. East Calcutta
               respiratory             Wetland)
               infections including          Degradation of the Living
               TB, measles,            Environment: Deterioration or loss
               whopping cough,         of trees, parks, gardens, open
               worms etc.,             space. Lack of maintenance,
                    Mosquitoes are     deterioration in the built
               a health hazard of      environment including cultural
               the domestic            heritage features. Poor quality
               environment, as         building construction resulting in
               vectors of filariasis   risks of fire and collapse.
               and dengue.                   Land Contamination: Poor
                                       industrial waste management
                                       resulting in high levels of pollutants
                                       (e.g. lead and cadmium) in former
                                       industrial locations.
                                             Spatial Distribution of Land
                                       Uses: “Bad neighbour” , (e.g.
                                       industrial / workshop) development
                                       create local air, water and noise
                                       pollution problems. Concentration
                                       of intensive land uses in the urban
                                       core causes congestion and
                                       unbalanced (commuting) transport
                                             Poor Housing and Urban
                                             On the urban fringe housing is
                                       unplanned , often to inadequate
                                       building standards and poorly
                                             In urban core more than 50
                                       percent population live in bastis
                                       characterised by overcrowding,
                                       poor services and sites subject to
                                       environmental hazards.
                                             Unrecognised settlements
                                       (beside canals, roads, rail tracks) /
                                       street dwellers live in shelters
                                       constructed of temporary materials,
                                       with few / no services.
Food                Malnutrition            Reuse of untreated or partially
               increases               treated wastewater as irrigation
               vulnerability to        water in vegetable and fish
               environmental risks     production
                    Long term               Malnutrition
               health risks related
               to accumulation of
               trace metals and
               other pollutants
Economic            Health risks           Uncontrolled and untreated
Activity       related to toxic        emissions and effluent discharges
               discharges and          across the CMA
       PROBLEM            RISKS / IMPACTS                    KEY INDICATORS /
       CLUSTER                                                 DESCRIPTION
                            improper waste                   Uncontrolled resource use (e.g.
                            disposal                    water)
                                 Major                       Small scale / cottage industries
                            occupational health         cumulatively have a major impact
                            risks                       on air and water quality - especially
                                                        where toxic discharges are present.
                                                        These industries are often located
                                                        in clusters in densely populated
                                                        areas and often within a residential

   Key features of environmental health profile of the CMA are:
     Deaths from gastro-enteric (GE) diseases are few, but the number of episodes of
illness remain high, and appears to be increasing (Figure 2.2);
    Air pollution, indoor and outdoor, is likely to contribute to high rates of morbidity
from chronic and acute respiratory diseases. Mortality from chronic respiratory
disorders affects mostly older age groups;
   Contamination of groundwater and the food chain (e.g. arsenic) has increased
concern about industrial waste and possible adverse long term health impacts;
    Vaccine-preventable environmental diseases (diphtheria, tetanus, TB,
poliomyelitis and measles) still occur. TB, a traditional urban disease of poverty and
environmental deprivation, remains a major problem;
   Vector-borne diseases cause few deaths, but considerable illness. There were
17,000 positive cases of malaria in CMC in 1992;
   In certain areas, high rates of infant-, and cause-specific-, mortality continue,
suggesting the persistence of traditional environmental impacts for disadvantaged
groups in Calcutta;
   Many workers in the CMA are exposed to health risk within the workplace;
    Synergies: Given the proportion of people living in bastis in Calcutta, and given
the relative severity of the health impacts experienced by this population (also as
workers in risky occupations), a focus on interventions to address the environmental
problems of the bastis, would be justified on the basis of scale of population affected
and severity of impact (Box 2.1).

                               Box 2.1: Living on the Margins
   Naseem Banu ( not her real name) is a 22 year old widow who lives beside the Beliaghata Canal in
   the Sealdah area of Calcutta. She works as a prawn cleaner and as a waste picker, earning Rs 20-
   25 per day. Prawn cleaning is relatively poorly paid, so she must walk all the way to Howrah for
   this - public transport is too expensive; sometimes a truck comes to the area to pick up the prawn
   Waking up at 5 am she leaves for her first round of waste picking in the area and returns home
   around 7 am. She then attends to her household tasks which include fetching water, cooking,
   washing and attending to her two sons aged 6 and 3. After a meal consisting of rice and potatoes,
   and sometimes a few pieces of meat, she leaves for her next round of waste picking. She is back
   by 6 p.m. The materials she collects - paper, cloth, plastics, glass, etc., are stored in her hut and
   she sells a week‟s accumulation to the dealer who also lives in the settlement is without water or
    She lives constantly under the threat of eviction. The settlement is without water or sanitation. She
    spends about 2 hours every day fetching water from Rajabazar, where she has to face the verbal
    insults of local dwellers. A makeshift platform over the canal, enclosed by tattered gunny cloth
    serves as a toilet.

                  Figure 2.2: A Rising Trend in Gastro Enteric Diseases?

      Ga stroenteric Admissions

                                                  1991                    1992                1993            1994

                                                                                    Admissions            Deaths
                                                          Source: Calcutta Infectious Diseases Hospital

2.3 Community Choices: The Importance of Water /
    Area Focus Studies in Titagarh, Sealdah Canal Side and Howrah indicated that
    in the case of low income and vulnerable groups the water supply / sanitation
    nexus was generally viewed as a priority environmental problem for the
    community (Table 2.2; Figure 2.3). But improved income and employment are
    also the immediate priorities for low income groups.

    Table 2.2: AFS Priority Environmental Problems
                                                           VULNERABLE                LOW INCOME           MIDDLE INCOME
                                                             GROUP                     GROUP                  GROUP
                                                                Unemployment and poverty are
                                                            identified as the major problem
                                                                Lack of health care facilities
     Housing                                                       1                          4                    -
     Open space                                                    4                          6                    5
     Water supply                                                  2                          2                    4
     Sanitation                                                    2                          1                    -
     Drainage / Flooding                                           2                          3                    3
     Solid waste disposal                                          3                          3                    2
     Air pollution                                                  -                         5                    1
     Noise pollution                                                -                         5                    1
                                    Note: 1= most important - 6 = least important
Figure 2.3: Queuing for Water
2.4 Why do environmental problems occur?
2.4.1 Environmental Pressures: Urban Development and Economic
     Environmental pressures relate to processes and activities which place demands
     on resources and the environment. In broad terms the major environmental
     pressures on the CMA emerge from a combination of population growth, poverty
     and decades of stagnation.
     (i)     (i)       Population Growth: Population growth places increased
             demands on resources and services. While growth rates have slowed, the
             population of the CMA still increases by an estimated 1.9 per cent per
             year which suggests that an additional 240,000 people will be added to
             the population in 1996.
     (ii)    (ii)     Poor Housing: Organised basti areas on public and private land
             have mushroomed throughout the city to meet pressing family needs
             (Figure 2.4).
     (iii)   (iii)    Stagnation and Poverty: The industrial base of Calcutta has
             declined dramatically over the past decades - West Bengal‟s share of
             national output declined by almost 50 per cent over the 1981-91 period.
             Poverty is increasing:
             a)     a)       there are now about 5 million poor people in the CMA;
             b)     b)      the share of the population living below the poverty line is
                    estimated to have increased from 29% in 1987 to 35% in 1990.

                          Figure 2.4: Poor Housing
2.4.2 Underlying Causes: Policy, Planning and Market Failures
       Urban environmental management in the CMA has been seriously deficient in
       meeting the challenges of urbanisation and population growth (Figure 2.5). The
       key point is that environmental problems emerge not simply because of
       environmental pressures but crucially, how these are managed by the
       responsible institutions (Box 2.2).

 Box 2.2: The Public’s Street Level Experience of the Environment
  Public perception of the
  environment is dominated by
  everyday,           “street-level”
  experiences and problems.
  However, there are significant
  disparities in the concerns of
  people of different socio
  economic classes (see Table
  below). When an initiative
  such as CEMSAP is taken up,
  it is in terms of the impact on
  such street-level problems that
  the strategy will be judged.

 Such issues have been considered in the different problem clusters (i.e. air and
noise, water and wastes, land, food and industry) and the underlying causes
  reviewed. Each street level problem should normally be managed by the agency with
  primary responsibility. The EMS seeks to address these underlying problems, so that
  the concerned authorities are in a position to perform their role, however, there is also
  constant need for citizen action to promote greater public awareness and pressurise
  authorities to act.
                    Stakeholder Mismanagement: Street level problems
                                  Street-Level Experience of Problems               Agencies Responsible
                                                                                       for Taking Action
                         Garbage (including industrial, hospital, toxic and         Local bodies, Health
                         hazardous wastes) (EWS, LIG, MIG, HIG)                     Dept
                         Emissions from buses, taxis and private vehicles (MIG,     Transport Dept, Police
                         Noise pollution from vehicle horns (MIG, HIG)              Transport Dept, Police
                         Roadside debris, building materials and commercial         Local bodies
                         goods (MIG, HIG)
                         Potholes, dug-up roads, broken footpaths, open             Local bodies
                         manholes and gully-pits (MIG, HIG)
                         Unlit streets (EWS, LIG, MIG)                              Local bodies
                         Stray dogs, cattle on streets; khatals in neighbourhoods   Local bodies, Police, AH
                         (MIG, HIG)                                                 Dept
                         Unhygienic food in snack bars, cut fruits, adulterated     Local bodies, Police
                         drinks (LIG, MIG)
                         Vagrants, pavement dwellers (MIG, HIG)                     Local bodies, Police
                         Leaking pipelines, open drains, accumulated sludge         Local bodies
                         water (EWS, LIG)
                         Waterlogging and flooding during rains (EWS, LIG)          Local bodies,
                         Factories, motor garages and workshops in residential      Local bodies, Police,
                         neighbourhoods (MIG, HIG)                                  Planning Authority
                         Pavement hawkers (MIG, HIG)                                Local bodies, Police
                         Diesel generators run by hawkers, shop-owners and          Local bodies, Police
                         establishments (MIG, HIG)
                         Absence of public toilets and consequent open urination    Local bodies, Police
                         and defecation (MIG, HIG)
                         Neighbourhood pollution from coal-fired chulhas (MIG)                  -
                         Filling up of ponds and water bodies for building          Local bodies, Fisheries
                         construction (LIG, MIG)                                    Dept
                         Misuse and abuse of parks and open spaces (MIG, HIG)       CIT, HIT, Local bodies,
                         Arsenic in groundwater (Scientists, Media)                 PHE Dept
                         Graffiti, posters, bill boards, hoardings, dung cakes on   Local bodies, Police
                         walls (MIG, HIG)

Source: Opinion Survey, Area Focus Studies, Traffic Survey, CEMSAP 1995
EWS = Economically Weaker Sections; LIG = Low Income Group; MIG = Middle Income Group; HIG = High Income
Figure 2.5: The Spatial Distribution of Environmental
Risks and Problems
Note: Polluting industries identified in this map are based on Supreme Court Orders
   The processes contributing to these deficiencies are clear.
     Getting Prices Wrong: To date there has been a great reluctance to charge for
the provision of environmental services. Users of resources rarely pay the economic
or financial costs of supplying them. Getting resource prices “wrong” has resulted in
over-exploitation of the environment and service deficiencies.
    Lack of Effort to Mobilise Resources Creates Services Deficiencies: The
lack of willingness to mobilise resources through property tax and user charges has
resulted in a gross neglect of operation and maintenance of urban infrastructure
(Table 2.3). While those getting access to highly subsidised services have benefited,
the majority, and especially vulnerable groups, have been denied access to them
because of the major system deficiencies.
   Table 2.3: Environmental Service Deficiencies in the CMA
               Sector          Description               Assessment
               Water       * daily water          * majority of population
               Supply        production of          receive intermittent
                             1,563 mld              supply - on average 4
                             (equivalent to         hours daily
                             170 lpcd)            * delivery varies between
                           * leakage officially     20 and 220 lpcd
                             30%                  * majority of population
                           * water                  rely on street stand
                             distribution           posts (45,000 in CMA)
                             system covers        * large proportion of
                             78% of                 population have to rely
                             population             on shallow hand pumps
                                                    (34,000 in CMA)
                                                  * shallow ground water
                                                    aquifer is often
             Sewerage &    * 28% of CMA           * in areas with sewers
              Sanitation     have sewers            less than 20% of
                           * 61% of                 households are
                             population use         connected
                             on-site              * new sewage treatment
                             sanitation             plants operating below
                           * 11% of CMA             50% of flow capacity
                             population have      * majority of public
                             no sanitation          sanitation facilities not
                             facilities             operational
              Drainage     * majority of          * most drains discharge
                             drains unlined         into the River Hooghly
                           * surface drains       * drains used for disposal
                             used for foul          of refuse
                             drainage             * drains rarely cleaned or
                                                    maintained leading to
                                                    extensive flooding
                                                    during the monsoon
             Solid Waste   * in the CMC an        * local collection varies
             Management      estimated 3,100        between daily and once
                             tonnes is              a fortnight
                             generated daily      * sides of roads and
                           * 60% of solid           railways used for refuse
                             waste is               disposal
                             collected by the     * proper sanitary
                             formal sector the      landfilling is not
                             remainder is re-       practised leading to
               Sector        Description            Assessment
                            cycled              ground water
              Hazardous   * scale and nature          no proper
                Waste       of the problem is    common treatment
             Management     not well             and disposal facilities
                            documented           - wastes are often
                                                 combined with
                                                 municipal wastes
                                                 wastes are frequently
                                                 discharged untreated
                                                 to surface waters
                                                      hospital / clinical
                                                 wastes are not
                                                 managed properly

   Lack of Willingness and Ability to Enforce Regulations: The legal and
regulatory framework governing polluting activities is in place but rules are not
enforced and compliance is low.
    Planning Weaknesses: Despite efforts to prepare a comprehensive strategic
development plan for metropolitan Calcutta (initiating from 1960‟s Basic
Development Plan) no document attained the legal status or political support
required to control development until early 1996. In the absence of plans, regulation
is difficult. Infrastructure investment decisions and building sanctioning procedures
become mostly ad hoc, particularly in the peri-urban areas where local administration
is weakest and pressures for urban expansion are most pronounced. Instruments
regulating urban land, such as the Urban Land Ceiling Act, and other land
administration and management tools restrict the supply of land for development
creating a shortage of housing for low income groups and other uses.
    Polluters do not Pay: Harmful uncontrolled emissions and discharges are a
common feature in the CMA. Polluters rarely pay the costs of polluting (Figure 2.6);
indeed it often pays to pollute!

   Figure 2.6: Polluters do not Pay!: Water Cess Collection
               Rates in West Bengal (% collection)







                    1986-87 1987-88 1988-89 1989-90 1990-91 1991-92 1992-93

2.4.3 Institutional Failures: Processes Against Change
     Lack of Openness Promotes Unaccountability: Information about many of the
  key organisations responsible for policy, regulation and implementation of
  environmental management measures is often not in the public domain.
      Poor Performance Betrays Trust: Institutions have a duty to their constituency,
  the corollary being that people have expectations from institutions that exist to serve
  their needs. Large amounts of national and international funds have been spent on
  developing urban infrastructure over the past 20 years, yet the provision of
  environmental services over this period has both failed to keep pace with urban
  growth and nor have those existing services been adequately marked (Figure 2.7).
  As a result there has been no improvement in living conditions for many of the poor.
  Public trust in the ability of environmental management service providers to
  deliver improvements has yet to be fully redeemed.
2.5 Doing Nothing Threatens Future Prosperity and
    the Environment
     The consequences of further degradation are likely to be far-reaching, through
     loss of the opportunities offered by the new industrial policy and the political and
     institutional changes of recent years.

               Figure 2.7: Solid Waste Mis-Management

      Population Growth will put increasing pressure on service requirements and the
  environment - over 1.2 million more people will require services over the next 5
  years. If nothing is done to satisfy not only the existing deficiencies but also the
  future demands, Calcutta‟s already degraded environment and difficult economic
  prospects will worsen.
       Threatened Water Supply: continued mismanagement and degradation of the
  distribution system threatens future water sources and supplies. Switching supply
  sources (e.g. from ground to surface water) with the resultant additional treatment
  requirements is very costly, and could amount to incremental costs of hundreds of
  crores of rupees over the next 10-20 years. On the other hand, the lack of sufficient
  water or supply of poorer quality waters, combined with greater insanitary conditions,
  will inevitably lead to greater health risks and increased disease incidence, possibly
  including more epidemics.
      Air      Pollution:      The
  vehicular population in the CMA
  is likely to increase by about
  50% over the next 10 years. In
  the      absence       of    any
  management        strategy     for
  pollution     abatement,      the
  concentrations of
          nitrogen oxides and carbon monoxide are likely to increase at an even
          greater rate. Industrial sources of air polluter can also be expected to
          increase with economic recovery if no step is taken. (Figure 2.8).
    Gridlock: Gridlock conditions will
prevail for transport throughout the
Business District (CBD) and the areas
adjacent to it (Figure 2.9). Petrol and
diesel fuel consumption will increase
substantially - it is estimated that a 10%
increase in average travel speeds will
reduce fuel consumption by 7%.
                                                                              Figure 2.9:
              Figure 2.8: Air Pollution from
    A Deterrent to Investment in Key
Thrust Sectors: Among the industries
expected to drive future growth are high
value-added „sunrise‟ industries such as
          software, electronics, tourism, and financial and producer services. A key
          constraint blocking development of these sectors is Calcutta‟s „urban
          decay‟. It can be debated that the Economic decline of Calcutta is in part
          recated to environmental degradation, and that environmental
          improvement will be an indiscrement to economic recovery.
   High value-added growth sector investors are likely to be attracted to a clean
    Growing Inequalities: The „do nothing‟ scenario suggests that the already poor
state of the environment in the CMA can further deteriorate dramatically. The costs
of further deterioration are likely to be high and continue to be disproportionately
borne by (growing numbers of) poor and vulnerable groups.
    A Downward Spiral: Continued environmental degradation and urban
environmental services deficiencies undermine long term growth potential, which in
turn undermines the resource mobilisation necessary for sustained environmental

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