Despite tall claims made by authorities regarding ban on polythene, it is being used continuously under the nose the concerned department thereby causing a threat to the environment.
As per SRO 182, issued by the government on June 18, 2008, polythene bags were banned in the state under the J&K Non-Biodegradable Material (Management, Handling and Disposal) Act, 2007.
But as usual, we make laws but fail in implementation. The laws and rules remain confined to papers only and situation remains the same. One can observe that shopkeepers and vendors continue selling their products in polythene bags.
Moreover, it’s a common scene to see people throwing their kitchen waste and other trash in polythene bags on the roads and lanes. One can easily witness polythene bags dumped on roadside which clearly shows how seriously the ban is imposed.
It is also pertinent to mention here that 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 same old routine.
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.
These bags clog drains and streams, sometimes leading to landslides, pollute farmlands; and are harmful to animals, thereby posing a great threat to the biodiversity and environment in Jammu & Kashmir.
Currently, Jammu & Kashmir does not have an efficient and environmentally safe system of waste disposal. Mixed household waste is collected on a daily basis by waste collectors and collection vehicles. The mixed waste is taken to and dumped at the waste dumping sites located along the banks of rivers.
Only a small fraction of the waste is recycled through the informal sector. Unlike other states, plastic bags are not being picked up by the informal sector and it finally ends up at landfill, posing a serious hazard to environment.
The reason behind this is that both government and people have no other option available than to use polythene for daily use. The lack of awareness and zero option available is also one of the reason that people are still using polythene and worst part is that the concerned agencies totally fail to make people understand the hazards of polythene.
The need of the hour is that the regulatory agencies should invite different groups and assess their problems in the implementation of the ban. There is also need to interact with the consumer and small scale traders, who are using it daily.
Government should make youth a active participant in this drive. Youth can make people aware about the dangerous effects of polythene and make them understand the available options. Jute bags, paper bags or cloth bags can easily replace polythene. We need to make people understand and use alternatives of polythene.
Moreover, there needs to be a strict implementation of laws and the concerned need to take strict action against violators.
D P Singh,