Polythene ban blatantly flouted on ground

Srinagar, Mar 07: The state government is yet unable to control the sale and use of polythene bags in Kashmir Valley.
In December 2017, the High Court ordered enforcement of the complete ban on polythene carry bags from February 15.
Subsequently, the Pollution Control Board (PCB) asked the divisional administration to enforce the ban, which was imposed by the state government in 2008 under J&K State Non-Bio-degradable Material Act 2007.
The government, however, has failed to implement the order, which bans manufacture, stocking, distribution, sale, and use of polythene bags in Kashmir.
A casual visit to any major or minor market is enough to know that not much has changed on the ground, as plastic bags continue to be used openly.
A shopkeeper at Koker Bazar said that he sells around 1,000-1,500 packets of 50 plastic bags each per day.
Nadeem Qadri, a environmental lawyer, said that it was a “tedious task” for the officials to implement the ban in the Valley.
“It is a mafia supported by political goons and certain people with vested interests who are hell-bent on damaging our ecology,” Qadri said.
The lawyer said that 15,300 kilograms of polythene has been seized at Lakhanpur by the officials in the last three weeks.
“We are investigating who ordered this consignment of plastic bags. The moment we are able to map those people, we will file a criminal contempt against the company, official or the agency,” the lawyer said.
Environmentalist, Prof Abdul MajeedKak said, “The state efforts have never been sincere.”
He said the fresh ban would meet the same fate as earlier directions.
“Nobody cares about the court orders here. The anti-polythene drive will have little effect, as the manufacturing units are hand in glove with the politicians and officials,” he said.
“There will be so-called awareness campaigns and fake petitions on the use of plastic bags. In reality, the government is least interested in protecting the environment.”
Director PCB, Dr Syed Naseem Hussein, expressed his “helplessness” in enforcing the ban.
“This ban can’t be implemented unless the government cracks down on manufacturers,” Hussein said.
“There is no manufacturing unit of polythene bags in Srinagar. All the polythene supplies come from outside the Valley. If the industry is producing and sending their supplies here, vendors will buy. The problem can be solved if the entry points are plugged.”
The Director said the state was in an urgent need of alternatives to plastics.
“Some start-up businesses in the valley have made polythene-type bags from of natural starch. The bags of this kind can be decomposed within three months. We are encouraging such young entrepreneurs, and they will soon be given a letter of recognition by the PCB,” said Naseem.
The PCB is also mulling to organise information campaigns on a large scale wherein they would sensitise the masses regarding the hazards of polythene bags.
Dr Naseem said they, along with municipal corporations, have seized around 710 kilograms of polythene bags in various districts so far.
“To ensure implementation of the ban, special enforcement squads have been constituted in all the Tehstils under supervision of the Tehsildars concerned,” he said.

 
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