Fun For Some, Misery For Others: Mobile Companies Are Destroying These Indonesian Islands & People

The Logical Indian

January 11th, 2017 / 6:39 PM

Image Courtesy: assets.bwbxscmpdailymailfoe

The Indonesian islands of Bangka and Belitung are the source of one-third of the world’s tin.

Tin is a crucial component of smartphones. Half of all tin is turned into solder for the electronics industry, eventually making it to tablets and smartphones used around the world.

The Indonesian islands of Bangka and Belitung are global hubs for tin mining. It has brought the country much trade – and ruin. Because beneath the many profits and bustling international business, the environment and communities of Bangka and Belitung have paid a hefty price for our smartphone usage.

According to reports by AFP and Friends of the Earth, tin mining is destroying forests and farmland, choking coral reefs and devastating communities on these islands.


The human cost

Illegal mining conglomerates are employing impoverished locals in the mines, without protection or any safety measures in place. This has endangered the lives of the workers, developed numerous ailments in them, and decreased their life spans.

As per the estimates of the Indonesian Tin Working group, one miner dies every week in these islands. Doctors feel that the high number of malaria cases are due to the hundreds of abandoned mine craters which have become breeding grounds for mosquitoes.

The dangerous and unregulated tin mining has killed and is injuring miners. At the same time, the local soil has turned acidic due to excessive deforestation. This has affected farmers on a massive scale.



The environmental cost

Tin mining is killing the seagrass eaten by turtles and 60-70% of the island’s coral reefs, driving away fish and ruining fishermen’s livelihoods.

The land degradation due to mining has been catastrophic, and so has been the pollution. There are also many cases of excessive water pollution and cutting down of forests. Farmlands have been compromised, and coral reefs are being wiped off the face of the earth.

Pius Ginting, the campaign manager at Friends of the Earth, said: “Tin mining has damaged more than 65 percent of Bangka’s forest areas and more than seventy percent of Bangka’s coral reefs. Fifteen rivers are now contaminated by tin mining waste and access to clean water has become a problem for more than half of Bangka’s population. And mining tin on Bangka is very dangerous: since the beginning of this year, more than sixty miners died, most of them buried in tin mines or trapped underwater.”

Despite the damage to the environment and miners losing their health and their lives in the mines, tin from Indonesia is considered “conflict-free”. This means that there are no trade restrictions on its use.



What can be done?

There are now more than 1.5 billion smartphones in use around the world, slated to grow increasingly in the coming years. This year, a third of the global population will own a smartphone.

There are many things smartphone companies could do to from introducing universal chargers or batteries that can charge in seconds to designing them to be much easier to take apart and repair. Experts say that through innovative design and better reuse of old phones phone companies could cut demand for tin and other raw materials.

At the same time, the Indonesian Government has to take action against illegal mining and ensure the safety of the local miners. The country’s labour laws have to be upheld, and any instance of tin poisoning or other health ailments has to be duly taken care of.

Nearly every smartphone company in the world relies on the Bangka and Belitung islands. To provide for our smartphones, these islands are witnessing disease, natural degradation, health breakdowns, intense poverty, and death.

We should all come together to change the situation for these people and demand that the big corporations take the required measures to force the government to take action.


Contributors

Edited by :

Share your thoughts..

Related Stories

The Water Crisis In Punjab: Illegal Industrial Discharge Destroying Rivers, Threatening Human Lives

How Jatin Mehta Of Winsome Diamonds Pulled Off A Rs 7000 Cr Scam & Is Living Peacefully In Caribbean Islands

Why Is China Building Islands In The South China Sea?

All You Need To Know About Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups And ‘Human Safari’ In Andaman & Nicobar Islands

JNU Student Suicide

JNU Student Commits Suicide; Some Blame Casteism, Others Hint At Personal Problems

Illegal Stone Quarries In Bannerghatta

Illegal Stone Quarries Are Destroying Animals’ Homes In Bannerghatta

Latest on The Logical Indian

News

Punjab: Amritsar Train Tragedy Didn’t Teach A Lesson As Devotees Stand On Railway Tracks During Chhath Puja

News

[Video] Peon Stitched Patient’s Wounds While Doctor Sat Nearby In Haryana Govt Hospital

News

Garima Arora Becomes First Indian Woman To Get The Coveted Michelin Star

News

Statue Building Spree: Karnataka Govt To Build 125 Ft Statue Of Mother Cauvery Costing Rs 1200 Cr

Fact Check

Fact Check: Screengrab From Bhojpuri Movie Circulated As BSP Leader Molesting Woman

Sponsored

On Children’s Day, The Story Of Menaka Stephen, Who Rose From Slums To Become A Beacon Of Hope For Underprivileged Kids

x

Stories that deserve attention, delivered to your inbox!

Handpicked, newsworthy stories which deserve the attention of a rational generation.