Talk about the UK and people are transported to dreams of a Eurotrip through beautiful landscapes with fresh air and nature that looks pristine. We also end up comparing our South Asian countries and the pollution that we see all around and often question the lack of care the people show towards the environment.
Hold it right there.
We are missing out on a whole lot of history out here and the latest case of Sri Lanka taking a firm stand and sending containers of illegal hazardous waste back to the UK has put the focus back on the great disparity between the developed and the developing countries.
After years of protests by the developing countries, towards the environmental and subsequent human rights violations the shipping of hazardous waste posed to the lives of people living there, the Basel Convention was passed in 1989. This was the result of the escalation of the Not In My Backyard (NIMBY) syndrome, where the developed world increasingly shipped their toxic waste, especially which was environmentally and economically challenging to dispose of, to countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America where the disposal was cheap, and policies around environmental protection few and far in between.
The Basel Convention, and the subsequent Hazardous Wastes Rules adopted by countries such as India, were targeted toward combating this ‘toxic trade,’ and even enable ‘reverse dumping,’ as seen in the latest news from Sri Lanka if need be.
In this particular case, according to BBC News, it has been reported that of the 263 containers sent to Sri Lanka, meant to be made up of used mattresses, carpets, and rugs for potential recycling, many contained ‘hospital waste.’ Authorities also said plastic and polythene waste were found in the containers.
Such blatant disregard for the people of these lesser developed countries is problematic. With weaker internal laws, toxic biomedical and e-waste pose a tangible threat to the persons who deal with them directly. They are also, invariably, the most ignored strata of society and thus continue to suffer the consequences of the global hierarchy that countries play to save their own skin at the cost of those whom they chose to consider lesser beings than themselves.
Not competent enough to sit idle and stare as the world goes by, Pallavi is optimistic to a fault and believes in building her world on her own rather than depending on others to make things right.