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Urbanisation and its impact upon the environment  

The situation in MEDCs

Effects of rapid urbanisation and industrialisation in LEDCs.

Difficulties of disposal of waste, air and water pollution

Examples and management;

INDIA CASE STUDY  - Bhopal, Water pollution in India, Electronic waste in India, Recycling waste in  India

A map of pollution hot spots in India Think about it

Try the Quizlet set below

Attempt this mix and match exercise

Try this gap fill exercise on the environment, or this one about India

Watch the videos on the River Ganges - what are the major sources of pollution and is the GAP plan enough?
Urbanisation is at its most rapid in the very poorest parts of the world.  Whilst the rate of growth of urban areas in richer parts of the world is slowing down and even declining, in poor LEDCs it is growing at a very fast rate. 

The situation in MEDCs
patterns have consequences for the natural environment in these locations.  Slow growth and decline in MEDCs and their greater level of wealth mean that they can manage waste and their impact upon the environment in a SUSTAINABLE way that lowers the ecological footprint people have on their environment.  These rich places also have a long history of having to cope with environmental problems and have developed ways and laws to control their impact  In the UK for example, we have the Clean Air Act of 1952, which limits polluting activities in our cities, and the European Union also pass laws which protect our environment in Urban areas, such as the amount of waste that has to be recycled.  These laws have evolved from our heavily polluted past. We have had many decades to establish organised systems to get rid of our waste.

The effects of urbanisation in LEDCs
In the world's poorer nations environmental standards and laws are much looser and in some places do not even exist!  Many of these cities in poorer nations have to cope with rapid urbanisation that has rapid INDUSTRIALISATION (the growth in the number of manufacturing industries and people working in those industries) as well.  These cities have a rapid growth in population and at the same time have a rapid growth in the number of INDUSTRIES operating there.  These industries are often highly polluting and cause huge damage both to the natural environment AND human health/standard of living. Within cities, poor citizens face the worst environmental consequences. In low-income settlements, services such as water, sewage, drainage and garbage collection are often non-existent. Lacking the resources to purchase or rent housing, between one-third and two-thirds of urbanites in developing countries become squatters on dangerously steep hillsides, flood-prone riverbanks and other undesirable lands.

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The difficulties of disposing of waste
Many cities in LEDCs are urbanising rapidly.  This means that they are growing at a very fast rate.  It is therefore difficult to deal with the huge quantities of waste that people produce.  In addition, many of the settlements that are created in the poorest cities of the world are shanty towns or slums, which are totally unplanned.  This makes the collection of waste difficult.  Finally, many of these cities have very low standards of environmental protection, this means that industries can "get away" with polluting the natural environment if they are creating employment.  This leads to the pollution of both water resources and the air.

Pollution in India - a case study

Bhopal is a major city in the centre of India. The Bhopal disaster was one of the world's worst industrial catastrophes. It occurred on the night of December 2–3, 1984 at the Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) pesticide plant in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, India.  A leak of methyl isocyanate gas and other chemicals from the plant resulted in the exposure of hundreds of thousands of people. The official immediate death toll was 2,259 and the government of Madhya Pradesh has confirmed a total of 3,787 deaths related to the gas release. Others estimate 3,000 died within weeks and another 8,000 have since died from gas-related diseases. A government statement in 2006 stated the leak caused 558,125 injuries including 38,478 temporary partial and approximately 3,900 severely and permanently disabling injuries. Union Carbide has had to pay compensation as a result.

WATER POLLUTION on the Ganges River
The Ganges River is a sacred Indian river that flows in the North of the country.  Pollution of the Ganges has become so serious that bathing in and drinking its water has become very dangerous.  The major polluting industry along the Ganges is the leather industry from which Chromium and other chemicals leak into the river.  Another huge source of pollution is that of the nearly 1 billion litres of mostly untreated raw sewage that enters the river every day.  Inadequate cremation procedures result in partially burnt or unburnt corpses floating in the river.  The Ganga Action Plan (GAP) was set up in 1985 by the Indian government with British and Dutch support to build a number of waste treatment facilities.  Under the GAP sewage is intercepted and water is diverted for treatment and several electrical crematoria have been built.  The project is now in its second phase - GAP II.
Dharavi slum, Mumbai, India - recycling of wastes

Dharavi has a recycling zone.  It is claimed that Dharavi’s recycling zone could be the way forward to a sustainable future.  Everything is recycled from cosmetics and plastics to computer keyboards.  23% of plastic waste gets recycled in the UK, in Mumbai it is 80%.  However, it is humans who work to sift the rubbish in the tips where children and women sift through the rubbish for valuable waste.  They have to work under the hot sun in appalling conditions.  They earn around a £1 a day for their work. 

At the edge of the tip the rag dealers sort their haul before selling it on to dealers.  The quandary is that people have to work in poor conditions to recycle waste.  From the tip it arrives in Dharavi where it is processed.  It is sorted into wire, electrical products, and plastics.   Plastics in India are continuously recycled.  People work in dangerous conditions with toxic substances without protective clothing, this could affect people's life expectancy.  Even dangerous hospital waste is recycled. 

Recycling in Dharavi
A man recycling cans in Dharavi

ELECTRONIC WASTE - Delhi, IndiaThe World is consuming more and more electronic products every year. This has caused a dangerous explosion in electronic scrap (e-waste) containing toxic chemicals and heavy metals that cannot be disposed of or recycled safely. But this problem can be avoided. Every year, hundreds of thousands of old computers and mobile phones are dumped in landfills or burned in smelters. Thousands more are exported, often illegally, from Europe, US, Japan and other industrialised countries, to Asia. There, workers at scrap yards, some of whom are children, are exposed to a cocktail of toxic chemicals and poisons The video above highlights the problems in Delhi in India Creative Commons License
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