Free Newsletters - Space News - Defense Alert - Environment Report - Energy Monitor
. Earth Science News .




FROTH AND BUBBLE
Trying to revive the Philippines' toxic river heart
by Staff Writers
Manila (AFP) Feb 19, 2013


China considers BBQ ban to combat smog: state media
Beijing (AFP) Feb 20, 2013 - China is considering a ban on barbecues to help reduce air pollution in built-up areas after heavy smog recently choked large swathes of the country, state media reported Wednesday.

The country's environmental watchdog has issued draft guidelines advising major cities to adopt legislation banning "barbecue-related activities", official news agency Xinhua said, risking the ire of street food-loving locals.

The move comes after extreme pollution last month choked Beijing and large areas of northern China, prompting health fears and sparking an angry reaction from residents, many of whom donned face masks.

The pollution in the capital was blamed on emissions from coal-burning in power stations and exhaust fumes from vehicles on choked streets, with Beijing ordering the emergency closure of factories.

But Xinhua said the Ministry of Environmental Protection earlier this month issued draft guidelines that also branded barbecues part of the problem.

It cited an anonymous official as calling on the public to abstain from outdoor grilling in favour of a more environmentally-friendly way of life.

Boys shout in delight as they flip backwards off a bridge. Fishermen quietly cast rods out. They are joyful acts that should belong to an earlier era, before the Philippines' Pasig River turned toxic.

Yet some slum dwellers in Manila whose shanty homes choke the river and its tributaries have little choice but to live as if the national capital's most important waterway is clean.

"It's hot. We have no other place to swim and escape the heat," 16-year-old Christian Ivanes said as he took a break from jumping off a bridge near the mouth of the river with his friends.

Ivanes, his seven siblings and a few hundred other illegal squatters live under the bridge in stilt houses made of junk wood and plastic, their existence as desperate as any in an Asian megacity infamous for its brutal poverty.

Shopping from the community stall at high tide requires wading ankle-deep through plastic wrappers and other garbage that is floating in black water. A thick stench rises with strong hints of untreated sewage and industrial waste.

"There have been people who have gone into this with an open wound and died," said Gina Lopez, a prominent environment campaigner who is leading the latest government drive to clean up the Pasig.

The national government is spending 10 billion pesos ($240 million) a year to transform the waterway and its 47 tributaries, according to Lopez, chairperson of the Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission.

Half the money is being spent on trying to relocate about 300,000 squatters who live directly along the banks of the river and tributaries, known locally as esteros.

"As long as there are illegal dwellers living along the estero, using the place as their toilets and dumping garbage, there's no clean-up that can happen. So that's the beginning," Lopez said.

The commission has cleared and rehabilitated four esteros since 2010, when President Benigno Aquino took power and implemented the programme, according to Lopez.

It is aiming to start work on 16 more this year, then have all the esteros as well as the Pasig transformed by the time Aquino ends his term in 2016.

At Estero de Paco, a 2.9-kilometre (1.8-mile) tributary that a few years ago was one of the most polluted in the city, shanty homes have been replaced with tree-lined boardwalks while water-treatment machines now nestle amid plants.

The more than 1,300 families, or roughly 6,500 squatters, who lived within three metres (10 feet) of the channel have been relocated, while vendors at a nearby market have stopped dumping garbage into the water.

Programmes with local water companies to improve sewage facilities have also been implemented.

Flooding that regularly hits the area has lessened because drains are not blocked by garbage, according to Lopez, and the residents who have remained beyond the three-metre clearance zone appear much happier.

"It's like living in a subdivision now," said Evelyn Quitala, 51, who has called Estero de Paco home all her life and runs a small shop from her two-storey concrete home.

"We can now jog here along the footpath and our children don't have to go somewhere else to play... and it is no longer smelly."

Estero de Paco is being used as a template for cleaning up the entire Pasig river system.

Nevertheless, while the estero may look better, the water remains badly polluted, according to Javier Coloma Brotons, an urban development specialist at the Asian Development Bank who is involved in cleaning up the tributary.

And although the rehabilitation commission is aiming for a major transformation of the entire water system within just three years, Coloma Brotons cautioned the project could take decades to complete.

He said many of the city's more than 12 million residents polluted the waters in some way.

Among the myriad of problems he cited were the lack of sewage treatment plants and trained people to maintain them, countless small businesses that dump waste into the water, and polluting industries upstream.

Coloma Brotons also pointed out that the 27-kilometre Pasig River -- which connects Laguna de Bay, the largest lake in the Philippines, with Manila Bay -- is tidal.

This means pollution from the vast Manila Bay, including waste from huge ports, washes back up the river.

"To clean up the river, you also have to address problems with the bay," Coloma Brotons said.

Adding to the complexity is the general chaos of the Philippine political system, which makes it extremely difficult for a co-ordinated approach from many government branches and vested interests.

Such issues have led to repeated and costly failures to transform the Pasig.

The national government launched its first project to rehabilitate the Pasig in 1989, and the rehabilitation commission was formed 10 years later with a mandate to completely transform the waterway by 2014.

Even now, few people expect the government to be able to relocate 300,000 slum dwellers by 2016, as similar programmes for other shanty towns across Manila have repeatedly failed over recent years.

People are determined to stay in the slums despite the atrocious conditions because they are close to jobs, with relocation sites typically many hours' commute from Manila.

Nevertheless Lopez insists a firm commitment from the Aquino administration means the latest clean-up campaign will work.

"I believe Manila can be interlinked and interlaced with waterways that are clean and avenues for recreation," she said.

.


Related Links
Our Polluted World and Cleaning It Up






Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News





FROTH AND BUBBLE
Live ammunition found at Mozambique rubbish dump
Maputo (AFP) Feb 18, 2013
Workers have unearthed hundreds of rounds of live ammunition at a garbage dump in Mozambique's capital, Maputo, local press reported Monday, years after a deadly explosion at a nearby weapons depot. The 259 rounds included machine gun magazines and anti-aircraft munitions, according to independent daily CanalMoz. "Machine gun magazines were found in the trash. The Municipal Police remove ... read more


FROTH AND BUBBLE
Four guilty of manslaughter in Italy quake trial

Warning of emergency alert system hacks

No health effects from Fukushima: Japan researcher

Aid trickles into tsunami-hit Solomons despite aftershocks

FROTH AND BUBBLE
'Explorers' to don Google Internet glasses

Sony pressured to change game with PS4 console

Researchers strain to improve electrical material and it's worth it

Explosive breakthrough in research on molecular recognition

FROTH AND BUBBLE
Indonesia announces shark, manta ray sanctuary

Quantifying Sediment From 2011 Flood Into Louisianas Wetlands

Japanese scientists hunt for groundwater

Landslides delivered preferred upstream habitats for coho salmon

FROTH AND BUBBLE
Ice age extinction shaped Australian plant diversity

European sat data confirms UW numbers that Arctic is on thin ice

NASA Scientists Part of Arctic Sea Ice Study

Rapid changes in Arctic ecosystem during 2012 ice minimum

FROTH AND BUBBLE
US Court tilts toward Monsanto in battle with farmer

Dustbin to dinner: ministers served binned food

Marsh plants actively engineer their landscape

Advance promises to expand biological control of crop pests

FROTH AND BUBBLE
Flood research shows human habits die hard

Indonesia floods, landslides kill 17

Mystery gold gifts for tsunami-wracked Japan port

Shimmering water reveals cold volcanic vent in Antarctic waters

FROTH AND BUBBLE
ICoast, Guinea vow peaceful resolution to border dispute

South Sudan president retires over 100 army generals

Pistorius shooting puts spotlight on S.African gun violence

US warns of tensions on Sudan-S.Sudan border

FROTH AND BUBBLE
Zuckerberg, Brin join forces to extend life

Thick hair mutation emerged 30,000 years ago in humans

Tiny mutation had big evolutionary impact

Bilingual babies get good at grammar




The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement