Today when Appa and I went to Karumandurai to do our shopping, I noticed the massive crowd outside the bank. As I watched the people shoving and fighting with each other, a strange thought struck me- What does the government do with the Rs.500 and Rs.1000 notes once they are exchanged?
When I returned home, I tried doing some research. I had to dig deep in. However, while doing this, I did learn some rather shocking things- such as, people have died because of demonetisation. These people are mostly overworked bank workers and the elderly.
And, some college students ( staying away from families, like my brother) who had been unable to get their money exchanged had been eating only one meal per day to save the little money they had.
Anyway, back to the point.
In the weeks since old 500 and 1,000-rupee notes have been banned by the government, over 8 trillion rupees worth demonetised currency has been deposited in banks. Till now, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has been burning the notes. This has been releasing a LOT of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, and it’s just a waste of time and paper.
Recently, though, RBI’s state branch in Kerala’s Thiruvananthapuram has found an alternative to recycle them rather than just burning them. They have been selling it to India’s only hardboard making factory – The Western India Plywoods Limited – for turning it into hardboard.
The factory gets the old notes in shredded form and converts them into pulp. It then uses a combination of around 5% of the paper pulp created from these notes with 95% of wood pulp to make them into hardboards. The factory has received around 80 metric tonnes of shredded demonetised notes in the last 3 weeks.
It’s a decent thing that they are doing- at least, better than burning the notes. But, this poses a large problem as well.
More trees have to be cut down to get the wood pulp needed to mix with the paper pulp. If all banks start doing this, then the already pitiful amount of trees we have will be dramatically reduced.
Everybody talks about the people who are affected- all that is fine and true, but we also need to look at what is happening to the environment.
There are around 23 billion notes to be scrapped. If they are all piled up one on top of another, the notes will be a couple of times larger than the height of Mt. Everest. Imagine making all that into hardboard. And the amount of trees that may be cut down.
So, my point is that demonetization isn’t just bad for the citizens of India- it’s bad for the environment as well. Earlier, the government was burning the old notes. Now, RBI came up with a really terrible “solution”. Perhaps they thought that it will be eco-friendlier than burning the notes, which is true, but other wise, it’s an awful idea. All the BJP members talk about how we must struggle through this so we can make a better India, but did they think of the trees? The animals, birds and insects that live in the trees?
And even if the idea of turning the notes into hardboard is dismissed, there is still the matter of burning the paper. India is already really polluted. And demonetization is just adding to it.
(8th Std, Peepal Grove School )