Demonetisation and Environment

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 )

8 responses to “Demonetisation and Environment

  1. Excellent Arjun and needed also for GREEN INDIA

  2. Dr P Meganathan PhD.

    That’s why most countries are now going cashless and this is the stage setting for it. Your views on the current issue is absolutely correct. But to change the total system, we have to pay the initial price.

  3. I don’t agree with the logic of producing 95pc wood pulp to mix with the 5pc paper pulp. What will happen if the industry is not getting old shredded currency? Will it stop production or use 100pc wood pulp?

    • This is what they are trying in Kerala as pointed out. Not an ideal solution, but better than burning the currencies!! And they are saving the 5% of wood pulp!!

      • Shenbagarajan

        I think I didn’t make my point clear enough.

        What I understood from the article is:
        1. Till recent times, old currency notes were destroyed by burning them and this process pollutes atmosphere.
        2. Recently RBI found out a really terrible solution for this i.e. converting them into hard boards.
        3. In this process, old notes will be converted into paper pulp and mixed with wood pulp in 1:19 ratio (5%:95%)
        4. Lot of trees have to be cut for making wood pulp which is required for mixing with paper pulp.
        5. Thus, demonetisation ends up in cutting of more trees and all BJP members did not think about this.

        Now the question is whether
        (i) 5% of paper pulp is added to 95% of wood pulp in the production of hard board or
        (ii) 95% of wood pulp is produced for converting 5% of paper pulp into hard board?

        (i) is what actually happening and may result in saving of 5% trees
        (ii) is the logic I mentioned as I don’t agree and the article is based on this logic.

        However, Arjun’s observation of things happening around, his efforts in preparing this article and his presentation skill are to be appreciated.

  4. Very thoughtful & succinct article.

    Bravo! We all must think of our environment

    Sudhanshu Uncle

  5. Nice aju

  6. Hariharan Seshadri

    Wow… Arjun, that’s really enlightening to hear it from you. An issue where only economists are prone to quarrel upon, you’ve forsooth put across a simple, yet thoughtful idea. I must appreciate your opinion!
    Having a minimal idea of what exactly can be done, I feel we must develop some sort of method through which we can directly convert the old, ‘to-be-shredded’ notes into new ones without any wastage… We’ve got the brains in India! I have no concrete idea on the alternate, but just a guess…
    Awesome, Arjun!!! Do keep writing…

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