World Environment Day: Use of polythene bags goes unabated

Every year State Pollution Control Board celebrates World Environment Day with huge pop and show, but on the ground failed to stop the use of polythene. Despite the tall claims made by State Pollution Control Board to make district Ramban free from polythene, there is a continue use of polythene under the nose the concern department which causes a threat to the environment. If sources were believed raids by SPCB teams to seize the banned carry bags seem to be a mere “formality” as no serious initiative has been taken to curb the practice. Sources said when the ban was imposed on the use of polythene bags, several business establishments had placed orders for jute bags fearing raids and subsequent fine by the SPCB authorities. However, the practice was limited to a brief period only. Even though conducting anti-polythene drives at many places across district Ramban, there has been no check on the supply of a large quantity of polythene bags. As per SRO 182, issued by the government on June 18, 2008, polythene bags are banned in the state under the J&K Non-Biodegradable Material (Management, Handling and Disposal) Act, 2007. “Over two dozen factories are manufacturing the bags illegally across the state in different parts. “Nearly 80 percent of the polythene bags, after the ban in Jammu and Kashmir is being imported from Punjab illegally viz road” sources said.
One can observe that the shopkeepers and vendors continue selling their products in polythene bags. Moreover, people throwing their kitchen waste and other trash material of the households in polythene bags on the roads and lanes. These are found littered in plenty in the lanes and even main streets, while continue chocking drains. One can easily witnessed polythene bags dumped on the road side and banks of Chenab which shows the purpose of the ban to check environment pollution and non-biodegradable material polluting the environment besides harming the water bodies.
It seems that the government had some after-thoughts on the matter. The polythene manufacturing units voluntarily ‘surrendered’ some raw material and polythene in bulk before the State Pollution Control Board saying they were ready to close down their business but in lieu of proper compensation from the government. The government has issued a notification to various departments asking them to gear up to face challenges on the environmental front. Manufacture, trade, transportation or use of polythene bags is illegal in the state. “Raids are being conducted by teams to check availability of polythene bags and seize them on the spot, but the practice is restricted to just a day. The next day we continue with the old routine. Unlike big business houses we do not have enough finance to place orders for jute bags in the bulk,” said a vegetable vendor.
“Be it a vegetable vendor or a shopkeeper, most of them supply goods to their customers in polythene bags and customers too have no problem with it. They hardly raise questions about the use of poly bags by the shopkeeper,” said owner of a provision store. When contacted Divisional Officer SPCB Ramban, Kuldeep Bhan said the department with the support of Municipal Committee conducting anti-polythene drives frequently, but due to shortage of manpower and infrastructure the department is not able to enforce the complete ban on polythene. “The department is in constant touch with some companies who will produce some other material bags to replace the polythene” he said.
The further said that the SPCB has seized more than 100 kg of polythene bags from the last two years.

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