Sucheta Dalal writes
in the Indian Express
about the aftermath of the cloudburst in Mumbai:
Contrary to popular perception, the spread of disease through mosquitoes and rats is unlikely to end very quickly. In fact, increased toxicity during the hotter months of September and October could lead to a second round of epidemic. The urgent need to clear dead animals after July 26, forced the municipal corporation to hastily bury or chuck carcasses in dumping grounds or open spaces.
Sources connected with the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) say over 2,000 buffalo carcasses and a massive 12,000 dog and goat carcasses were dumped at the Vasai and Deonar dumping grounds. In some cases, there has been an effort to bury them, but not at Vasai.
The Indian Express has in its possession photographs taken just a week ago, which show that carcasses thrown in the Vasai dumping ground are generating dangerous toxic waste and such high stench, that it is unsafe to visit the ground without protection. Today, Mumbai has two options: to deal with frequent epidemics carried from these toxic graveyards or to treat them and contain the danger.
Obviously, only the second is a viable option. And Dalal writes that the municipality is not competent enough in that regard.
Can we leave it to the municipal authorities to work at preventing epidemics? Even if these authorities have the will to do so, do they have the resources and the flexibility to consider new and innovative ways of disease prevention?
Dr Uday Bhawalkar and Dr H.S. Shankar of IIT Mumbai have designed a breakthrough solution that is being actively supported by The Indian Express. Their work has led to two doctorates and a US patent (check www.biosanitizer.com).
Dr Bhawalkar, who heads the Bhawalkar Ecological Research Institute (BERI), has developed the Vermi+Biosanitizer, which acts as a catalyst for treatment of garbage and sewage, preventing the spread of disease through nitrat management.
Although The Indian Express is keen to take this effort forward, a larger programme would require corporate support and initiative. The alternative is to wait for municipal and government authorities to plod through the paperwork required to experiment with breakthrough technology and hope that it leads to an official clearance for the use of such remedies for the greater common good.
Dealing with the situation does not require a huge financial outlay. Dr Bhawalkar estimates that treating all the worst-affected parts of Mumbai with the Biosanitizer concentrate will require an outlay of under Rs 25 lakh.
Surely that's not too much?