Sunday, June 21

Maximum Cities at Their Maximum

Earlier this month (March 2015) startling images out of Mumbai, India were published online of the Deonar landfill -- one of the largest trash sites on the planet. ... More than 500 trucks a day dump trash at the site, contributing to an enormous mountain of waste. That has spilled over into the city, with countless streets lined with bottles, plastic and rotting produce.
A 2013 report by the World Bank suggests urban residents are throwing away 1.3 billion tonnes per year -- and that number is expected to increase to 2.2 billion tonnes per year by 2025. ...

(March 2015) Piles of rotting garbage shipped from Canada have sparked protests in the [capital] city of Manila. Fifty containers carrying vast amounts of waste, including adult diapers, have been reeking up the city port for more than two years. ... They were shipped by a Canadian plastics exporter, supposedly filled with recyclable plastic materials. However, upon further inspection, customs officials discovered the shipment was filled with stinking household garbage and immediately impounded it in the city port, where it remains today. The company behind the shipment denies having sent any garbage to the Asian nation. The Philippines' Bureau of Customs accepted the shipment under the assumption that is was meant for recycling. 

According to an international treaty known as the Basal Convention, developed countries such as Canada are forbidden from exporting their waste. 

I grabbed the above excerpts from a website called The Weather Network, which had grabbed the reports from various news sources.    

Back to Mumbai; excerpt also from The Weather Network:

PHOTOS: Mumbai, India crippled by floods
(June 19) More than 200 mm of rain [almost 8 inches] fell in Mumbai, India between Thursday and Friday -- inundating streets and bringing traffic to a standstill. ... The heavy monsoon rain was courtesy of a low pressure system that formed in the Bay of Bengal. ... All schools have been closed and rail travel has been virtually shut down. ... "People have been asked not to move out except absolutely necessary. They should stay indoors," an official of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation told NDTV.

This led to finger-pointing:

From Flood Free Mumbai? Only if This Was Completed by Saurabh Gupta; June 21, 2015; NDTV (India):
Friday's flooding of Mumbai has brought the focus back on BRIMSTOWAD, the Brihan Mumbai Storm Water Disposal System, which has seen cost escalation and delays. Under the system, launched after the disastrous 2005 floods, the government plans to upgrade the city's 100-year-old drainage system and construct new pumping stations.
"We have delayed this for years and it is criminal. There is no excuse for the delay. The BMC (BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation) is one of the richest civic bodies and they cannot say lack of funding caused the delay," Urban planning and design expert Ashok Datar told NDTV.
A 2013 report of the Comptroller and Auditor General said that only 30 per cent of the work has been completed with cost escalations over Rs.2000 crore. This delay, the national auditor pointed out, is responsible for the city's flooding.
 Actually there is an excuse for the delay:
But Additional Municipal Commissioner SVR Srinivas said, "If we try to remove even one slum the people go to court and other appellate bodies and get stay orders. But where we have been able to remove encroachments and undertake drainage widening works, there was no flooding yesterday." [...]
If Srinivas's complaint sounds familiar, it was also voiced, for years, by officials in Rio de Janeiro. Every time they tried to clear the favelas they were blocked in court by groups representing the illegal residents in those vast slums. This led to great tragedy a few years ago when extraordinary amount of rains and flooding hit the city. That much water seeping into the garbage heaps on which the favelas are built reacted with the methane generated by the tons of buried garbage. Several parts of the favelas imploded, burying God only knows how many people alive.
The BMC also points out that over 90 per cent of the rainfall that Mumbai receives is discharged into the sea through drains. Given Mumbai's unplanned growth, encroachments and lack of open spaces hardly anything is absorbed by the ground. This means that if unusually heavy rains occur, the drainage system of the city crumbles under the pressure -- something that BRIMSTOWAD hopes to resolve.
I wish BRIMSTOWAD luck given that every major city in the world that faces flooding has the same problems as Mumbai, as flooding this year in cities as diverse as Sao Paulo and Houston indicate.

Now what happens in the maximum cities when maximum garbage combines with maximum flooding?

Maximum disease.


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