TODAY -

Plastic menace: Time over for warning, action must
- The People's Chronicle Editorial :: September 29, 2022 -



HAVING acknowledged that there has been unrestrained violation of the ban on single use plastics including packaged water bottle less than 1 litre capacity, it is hoped that Manipur Pollution Control Board (MPCB) chairman MLA Dr Usham Deben would do the needful to effectively check plastic pollution instead of issuing declaration that the board will start initiating legal actions against the lawbreakers.

In sync with Prime Minister Narendra Modi's objective to phase out single use plastic items with effect from July this year, the government of Manipur followed suit and adopted a cabinet decision in May to prohibit use of the environmentally hazardous products.

For a few days after lapse of the deadline there were signs that the latest ban order might be effective as the shopkeepers started using either non-plastic carry bags or the customers themselves brought along shopping bags.

However, nearly two months after the ban came into effect, majority of the traders in the heavily policed market places seem to be disregarding the government order as the prohibited plastic carry bags are being widely used.

Weeks after PM Modi's advice to the state governments to initiate appropriate measures to prevent pollution caused by plastics, the Manipur cabinet adopted the Manipur Plastic Policy, 2022 and forest and environment minister Th Biswajit elaborated on the dos and don'ts, expressed concern over degradation of the environment and announced that under the legislation anybody found selling or using the ban items would be slapped monetary penalty or imprisoned on the charge of defying law of the land.

Regardless of the cabinet decision or the minister's warning, huge quantity of discarded plastic carry bags, disposable cups and water bottles could be seen in every garbage pile around the capital city, not to mention of the drainage systems getting clogged due to unregulated disposal of plastic products, thereby testifying failure of effectively implementing the cabinet resolution to regulate use of plastics.

As such the appeal of Board chairman Dr Deben on Tuesday seeking public cooperation to check the plastic menace is akin to conceding that those supposed to enforce the ban on single use plastics to minimise plastic pollution haven't been discharging their duties diligently.

While it is imperative that the masses lend support to the government's initiative to protect the environment, it is the government authorities which have to lead from the front for successful implementation of the policy.

With production of plastic carry bags and other related items in the state almost nil, there is no doubt that failure to prevent transportation of the prohibited products and seizing them from stockists are the main factors for the widespread use of the banned single use plastics.

As such it is but natural that without the proactive involvement officials and personnel of the Board, the environment department and the law enforcement agencies, the PM Modi-inspired policy to prohibit single use plastics will remain as mere document.

Moreover, failure to implement the policy is likely to trigger speculation among the public that single use plastics too might be legalised just like the recent lifting of the liquor prohibition after over 30 years of the dry state status.



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