In downtown Kolkata, a man covers his face from the intense air pollution which plagues the city. It is believed that upwards of 70% of people in the city suffer from some form of respiratory problem, as a result of the city’s air.
In downtown Kolkata, a man covers his face from the intense air pollution which plagues the city. It is believed that upwards of 70% of people in the city suffer from some form of respiratory problem, as a result of the city’s air.

On the outskirts of Kolkata, men carry baskets of leather trimmings to a large cauldron for burning. The small pieces are burnt, dried and then sold for use as food for farm animals, such as chickens, or for use as fertiliser. Burning of the leather produces harmful gases that are released openly into the surrounding air. Workers often have little to no protection against the harmful smoke that is released.
On the outskirts of Kolkata, men carry baskets of leather trimmings to a large cauldron for burning. The small pieces are burnt, dried and then sold for use as food for farm animals, such as chickens, or for use as fertiliser. Burning of the leather produces harmful gases that are released openly into the surrounding air. Workers often have little to no protection against the harmful smoke that is released.

A man looks up from a sewer drain in central Kolkata. The city’s sewerage infrastructure is struggling to cope with an increasing population and subsequent usage demand.
A man looks up from a sewer drain in central Kolkata. The city’s sewerage infrastructure is struggling to cope with an increasing population and subsequent usage demand.

Woman stand on top of the Dhapa landfill, the destination for much of Kolkata’s solid waste over the past 30 years. It is estimated that only 10% of Kolkata’s waste is recycled, contributing to the growing problem of the municipality’s disposal of waste that is sitting just a couple of kilometres from the city’s downtown area.
Woman stand on top of the Dhapa landfill, the destination for much of Kolkata’s solid waste over the past 30 years. It is estimated that only 10% of Kolkata’s waste is recycled, contributing to the growing problem of the municipality’s disposal of waste that is sitting just a couple of kilometres from the city’s downtown area.

Residents of the Captain Bherry community in Kolkata gather around a water pump in the early morning. In the foreground a small pond is suffering from sever eutrophication, a phenomenon caused by excessive nutrients being released into the water, resulting in the proliferation of algae on the surface and subsequent death of aquatic life below.
Residents of the Captain Bherry community in Kolkata gather around a water pump in the early morning. In the foreground a small pond is suffering from sever eutrophication, a phenomenon caused by excessive nutrients being released into the water, resulting in the proliferation of algae on the surface and subsequent death of aquatic life below.

A man washes himself at sunset on the banks of the Ganges River, in central Kolkata.
A man washes himself at sunset on the banks of the Ganges River, in central Kolkata.

Foam floats not the surface of the Bhangar Canal, on the eastern outskirts of Kolkata. Flowing off of the nearby Vidyadhari River, the canal receives water mostly from nearby tanneries which process leather. At various points along the canal, toxic wastewater from the tanneries is released into the nearby waterway. At sluice gates nearby, the water has turned to foam as the chemical-laced water is churned up.
Foam floats not the surface of the Bhangar Canal, on the eastern outskirts of Kolkata. Flowing off of the nearby Vidyadhari River, the canal receives water mostly from nearby tanneries which process leather. At various points along the canal, toxic wastewater from the tanneries is released into the nearby waterway. At sluice gates nearby, the water has turned to foam as the chemical-laced water is churned up.

Crows watch over Hindu idols and piles of garbage discarded near the banks of the Ganges River.
Crows watch over Hindu idols and piles of garbage discarded near the banks of the Ganges River.

In the A.K. Steel Market in central Kolkata, workers carry baskets full of discarded metal after they have been used for making bottle tops.
In the A.K. Steel Market in central Kolkata, workers carry baskets full of discarded metal after they have been used for making bottle tops.

A young child looks out from one of Kolkata’s iconic ‘ambassador’ taxis. Traffic is an increasing problem which is choking the city.
A young child looks out from one of Kolkata’s iconic ‘ambassador’ taxis. Traffic is an increasing problem which is choking the city.

Residents of the Captain Bherry community in Kolkata gather around a water pipe in the early morning. Poverty is still rife in the city and access to plumbing remains a privilege for many.
Residents of the Captain Bherry community in Kolkata gather around a water pipe in the early morning. Poverty is still rife in the city and access to plumbing remains a privilege for many.

Kolkatans walk past a fire burning plastics in the Topsia Street district, in the east of the city. The area is notable for its informal plastic recycling industry. Waste is often discarded and burnt in the evenings.
Kolkatans walk past a fire burning plastics in the Topsia Street district, in the east of the city. The area is notable for its informal plastic recycling industry. Waste is often discarded and burnt in the evenings.

Kolkatans walk past a fire burning plastics in the Topsia Street district, in the east of the city. The area is notable for its informal plastic recycling industry. Waste is often discarded and burnt in the evenings.
Kolkatans walk past a fire burning plastics in the Topsia Street district, in the east of the city. The area is notable for its informal plastic recycling industry. Waste is often discarded and burnt in the evenings.

A cow grazes in littered field on the side of a highway in east Kolkata. The cow is seen as a holy and revered animal in Indian culture, however even it is not safe from increasing pollution, especially in urban areas.
A cow grazes in littered field on the side of a highway in east Kolkata. The cow is seen as a holy and revered animal in Indian culture, however even it is not safe from increasing pollution, especially in urban areas.

Sara Swati Mondol, 45, stands in a refuse collection point in the Kolay Market in Kolkata. She collects discarded plastic which she later resells in her village. She has been doing this job since childhood earns around US$1 per day. Many millions of Indian people still live below the poverty line and are the set or of society often most vulnerable to pollution.
Sara Swati Mondol, 45, stands in a refuse collection point in the Kolay Market in Kolkata. She collects discarded plastic which she later resells in her village. She has been doing this job since childhood earns around US$1 per day. Many millions of Indian people still live below the poverty line and are the set or of society often most vulnerable to pollution.

A woman and child, who are refugees from Bangladesh, sit on the banks of a canal in the Rajabazar district of central Kolkata. The government has recently cleared the banks of the nearby canal in attempt to clean up the waterway.
A woman and child, who are refugees from Bangladesh, sit on the banks of a canal in the Rajabazar district of central Kolkata. The government has recently cleared the banks of the nearby canal in attempt to clean up the waterway.

A man sorting through different types of plastic goods in an informal recycling centre in the Topsia Road district of eastern Kolkata.
A man sorting through different types of plastic goods in an informal recycling centre in the Topsia Road district of eastern Kolkata.

Two children in the grounds of a brick factory, in the Malancha district of eastern Kolkata. As their parents work nearby, children often play in the area, exposing them to harmful materials and waste produced in the industrial process.
Two children in the grounds of a brick factory, in the Malancha district of eastern Kolkata. As their parents work nearby, children often play in the area, exposing them to harmful materials and waste produced in the industrial process.

Against smoggy skies, a man walks his daughter across a busy street in central Kolkata. According to the Delhi-based Center for Science and Environment, in their report ‘Air Quality and Mobility in Kolkata’, “18 out of every 100,000 persons in Kolkata fall victim to lung cancer annually. Seven out of 10 people in Kolkata are afflicted with some form of respiratory ailment. Also the percentage of children suffering from upper respiratory infections, cough, wheezing and eye irritation is increasing in direct proportion to the increasing concentration of PM10.”
Against smoggy skies, a man walks his daughter across a busy street in central Kolkata. According to the Delhi-based Center for Science and Environment, in their report ‘Air Quality and Mobility in Kolkata’, “18 out of every 100,000 persons in Kolkata fall victim to lung cancer annually. Seven out of 10 people in Kolkata are afflicted with some form of respiratory ailment. Also the percentage of children suffering from upper respiratory infections, cough, wheezing and eye irritation is increasing in direct proportion to the increasing concentration of PM10.”

A child jumps in the Ganges River near a jetty in Kolkata. Upon entering the city, the river is saturated with a mix of domestic and industrial waste that has accumulated as it has passed through numerous states in northern India, making it one of the most polluted rivers in the world.
A child jumps in the Ganges River near a jetty in Kolkata. Upon entering the city, the river is saturated with a mix of domestic and industrial waste that has accumulated as it has passed through numerous states in northern India, making it one of the most polluted rivers in the world.

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