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Two Serious Environmental Problems

Cambodia is a small country situated on Indo-China peninsula in South East Asia. It is bordered by the countries of Thailand, Laos & Vietnam on three sides and South China Sea on one side. This country has a very interesting history of naming. Before May 1989 it was called People’s Republic Of Kampuchea. From October 1970 and May 1975 it was known as Khumer Republic. This is an under-developed country with about 50% of its land covered by virgin forests. It is not a highly industrialized or urbanized country. Cambodia faces environmental problems as faced by under developed or developing countries all over the world.

The imperative problem in these countries is lack of resources. This problem produces several others problems which directly or indirectly effect environment of these countries. In addition to this Cambodia has to face natural calamities like flood, drought etc each year. These again contribute in enhancing environmental problems in this country. (Dos, 2005) Causes and Consequences of Environmental Problems Cambodia is a small country with many rivers. Major rivers of Cambodia either drain into Tonle Sap or into the Mekong River. The Cardamom Mountains & the Elephant range divide the region into three zones.

In the eastern zone rivers flow into Tonle Sap. In the western zone rivers pour into Gulf of Thailand. While the rivers of southern zone flow towards south on the eastern side of the divide. The Mekong River flows south ward from Cambodia-Laos border. Below Kracheh city it runs towards west about 50 km and turns toward south-west to Phnom Penh. Small seasonal rivers flow over Kracheh city. The gradient slope very gently from Kampong Cham, this occasionally causes flood in the areas along the river bank. Tonle Sap gets seasonal flow of water.

In months of September & October due to monsoon rains ,the flow in Mekong river increases enormously . Thus water overflows and inundates the delta. Flowing north ward this water empties into Tonle Sap. As a result the lake overflows, there by increasing its size from about 2,590 sq km to about 24,605 sq km. These recurring floods are not only big blows to the economy of the Cambodia but also cause devastating effects on the environment of the effected places. After flood decaying plants and animal bodies carried with flood water are remains scattered throughout the places.

Due to which the atmosphere of those places get polluted. Decaying substances get dissolved in ground water as well as in fresh water of water bodies. This cause post flood famines in this country. After flood when the water level of Tonle Sap retreats a new layer of sediment gets deposited. Due to annual flooding and poor drainage the surrounding area of the lake gets transformed into marsh lands. During dry seasons these marsh lands are unusable for agriculture . Comparatively lesser amount of silt is carried away from the lake by Tonle Sap River than deposited by Mekong River.

Thus gradually silting the lake and decreasing its water level and causing scarcity of water in dry seasons. Cambodia suffers from occasional droughts. These droughts cause soil erosion and reduce soil fertility, which declines agricultural yield in favorable season. Cambodia being an agricultural country, to cope up with this problem increasing yield substantially was necessary. To fulfill this purpose use of fertilizers and pesticides are increasing day by day. Pesticides can be divided into three subgroups namely Insecticides, Fungicides & Herbicides.

Insecticides comprise of Chlorine, Phosphorous, Carbonate chemicals such as DDT, Aldrin etc. Herbicides are generally used for controlling growth of weeds. These cause less harm to the environment than insecticides. Example of Herbicides are Atrazine , Propachlor etc. Herbicides do not leave long term effect on soil. Fungicides are mostly used in vegetable farms and orchards. The factors such as soil type , depth of water table , rain fall infiltration and persistence of compound in soil determine the entry of any pesticide in ground water .

some water soluble pesticides get dissolved in ground water and enter into food and effect human and animal health. Some pesticides contain aromatic compounds which do not get degraded easily after washing fruits and vegetables . These pesticides along with food cause health hazards . Water soluble pesticides cause cancer , birth defects and gene mutation. Some pesticides cast adverse effect on immune system and endocrine system leaving long lusting impact on the effected person. Due to water pollution lives of aquatic plants and animals are very adversely affected in Cambodia.

Deaths due to water born diseases are increasing day by day in this country . Poisonous sewage wastes, plastic packets thrown in water bodies are killing aquatic plants and animals. Along with recurring floods there are several other causes of water pollution in this country. Such as :- wastes running from industries and factories , septic tanks, hospitals, oil secretion from water vehicles , wastes from construction sites etc thrown in water bodies. The water bodies in industrial areas like Phnom Penh get highly polluted with poisonous wastes thrown from industries.

Poisonous pesticides used in agricultural areas get dissolved in ground water and effects human and animal health hazardously. Mineral extracted interact with ground and surface water thus polluting water resources. Air pollution is a serious problem which South America has faced for years. Due to air pollution percentage of oxygen in atmosphere is reducing day by day. As a result increasing number of people is suffering from lung problems. Poisonous gases in atmosphere are killing small animals & bird sand effecting human lives. The precipitation areas in industries have caustic vapors these cause skin problems.

In some industries people work in fluoride environment . Continuous exposure to fluoride leads to a disease Fluoric in which bones and teeth are effected. Air pollution is also casting drastic effect in vegetation of South America. The result of which is comparatively less and irregular rainfall, which again causes dryness and scarcity of water. These causes soil erosion because of which fertility of land reduces resulting in more loss of vegetation. The industrial areas of Cambodia like Phnom Penh severely suffer from air and water pollution.

Mining is one of the major occupations in Cambodia. Major environmental impacts of mining operations are : degradation of land ; pollution of surface and ground water resources; pollution of air. Deforestation including loss of flora and fauna; rehabilitation of effected population including tribals; impacts in historical monuments and and religious places. Loss of top soil due to deforestation also depletes ground water resources and results in drying up of perennial sources like springs and streams especially in hill areas.

Arsenic content in the water bodies in the states of Kandal, Kralie is about 50 ppb. About 46 kg per capita per day solid wastes are thrown in water bodies from the city of Phnom Penh alone. Due to poverty and illiteracy people of Cambodia generally suffer from malnutrition. Cambodia being an economically weak underdeveloped country , people living there are poverty striken . Along with that poor government policies on environmental issues, lack of hygiene, literacy etc cause people to suffer. (Fletcher, 2003)

Suitable remedies to control Environmental Pollution There are several ways to reduce environmental pollution. Studies on environmental and ecological impacts should be carried out , using remote sensing as a tool , whish emerged during the past two decades or more as a powerful source of near real time data covering large areas on the earth’s surface at one time and providing facilities to periodically monitor the changes that occur. Prepare broad land use, forest/vegetation cover and types, classes using the Landsat data.

Prepare a river/stream course and drainage pattern map by visual interpretation of Land sat . Prepare geomorphic map of the area to show macro land forms by visual interpretation of Land sat imaginaries . Obtain aerial multi-special data & special photographs by flying over the area surrounding the river basin . These will enable more detailed studies of the area. Periodical digging of the river beds can help in increasing water charring capacity of the rivers. Health & human development form integral components of overall socio-economic development in any nation.

The government of Cambodia should implement programmes of national importance like family welfare, primary health care services, prevention & control of diseases etc. Forest are renewable resources and contribute substantially to economic development. Increasing destruction and degradation of forests in Cambodia is contributing to a heavy erosion of top soil causing loss of productivity due to eroded and degraded land. Trees absorb Carbon Dioxide and give out oxygen. This maintains atmospheric equilibrium . Damns should be constructed on perennial rivers to store water and use during dry seasons.

Storage tanks should be contracted. Industrial pollution can be reduced by following steps . Applying cleaner production means systematically addressing all phases of the production process and product life-cycle. Cleaner production encompasses energy and raw material conservation , reduction in the use of toxic substances and product and process changes that reduce wastes and pollutants previously produced. All these options have the same aim , to reduce the risk of human and the environment from industrial Activities and consumption , and to do so in the most cost effective way possible.

Only the control methods , end-of-pipe (EOP) devises were devised to solve the problems of polluted surface waters , intoxicated air and other results of industrial developments. EOP wastes , also less hazardous than the raw wastes . Reducing domestic wastes in another way to prevent environmental pollution. Waste management includes taking measures so that garbage are not left open, recycling of waste products which serves both the purposes of saving resources and reducing environmental pollution. Such as recycling plastic bags, bottles etc.

, preparing paper and fertilizers from garbage. The process of making fertilizers from house hold wastes is called composting. The fertilizers in this process more useful in increasing soil fertility. Help of non profit organizations could be taken for this purpose. Technical know how could be taken from other countries in designing machines to solve this purpose. To reduce water pollution Llama dung can be used. This process is used in tin and silver mines of Bolivia to treat leaking poisonous waters.

In this process polluted water is passed through compost beds of limestone and dung. Bacteria living in this dung absorb acids in polluter water making it alkaline. It was invented by Professor Paul Younger, professor of Hydro chemical Engineering at Newcastle University. U. K. Lima dung is available in abundant quantities in Cambodia , animal husbandry being one of chief professions there. Another way of reducing water pollution is harvesting fish and oysters. These absorb metal content in water. Aquatic plants also serve this purpose. (Deb, 2006)

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