Ban on particular single-use plastic items is been initiated by the administration across India. Any person found violating the rule will have to face fine or imprisonment or both, mentioned under Section 15 of the Environment Protection Act (EPA) and according to the laws by municipal corporations. Implemented in every corner from 1st July, items under ban radar are plastic sticks of balloons, flags, candy sticks, ice cream sticks, plates, cups, glasses, polystyrene, straws, trays, knives, earbuds, packaging or wrapping material around invitation cards, sweet boxes, cigarette packets, plastic or PVS banners of less than 100 microns and stirrers. The news came after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed an event in India on World Environment Day.
Certain penalties have been fixed by state administrations against, whoever founds guilty. According to the information, states and Union Territories have been asked to keep an eye on banned items movement through border. Efforts are about to put in creating campaigns that will help in reducing production, distribution and sale of such items.
In an event held in Vigyan Bhawan for celebrating launch of global ‘save soil’ movement by Isha Foundation from London in March, Prime Minister Modi said, ‘Rich Modern countries of the world are not just exploiting majority of resources of the earth but they are also responsible for maximum carbon emission. The average carbon footprint of the world is about four ton per person per annum than 0.5 ton per person per annum in India, comparatively’. India has performed poorly in Environment Performance Index 2022, according to the World Bank. Among 180 countries, it is under bottom five with a score of 18.9. Countries like Vietnam, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Myanmar have scored better than India.
After the implementation of new ban, either shops were closed or people were seen carrying plastic bags despite of being well informed. After crossing number of shops and indulging in multiple conversations, it was observed shopkeepers have no other options but to still carry on. Jagdeep has a grocery store from past 20 years. According to him, the decision is appreciable but administration should have other alternatives to replace plastic. He said, ‘The decision is in the favor of environment and we know how bad conditions have been, lately. But before implementing it, they should have come up with other solid alternatives on ground, because what else we will sell our goods in? We can’t give 1kg or 2kg goods in some hand.’. Jagdeep says, other alternatives are quite expensive. ‘Either they should have cut down the charges of others beside plastic. Or they could have introduced cheap alternatives for us and customers’, he said.
Shopkeepers are not happy with halfhearted planning behind plastic ban whereas customers are partially happy and confused. 25 years old Shreya said, ‘On 2nd of July, I went for buying basic necessities, and I was given polythene by the shopkeeper to keep in it. I simply declined, and asked why they are not following the orders. He told me that I have to finish the rest of the stock before stop using it’. Shreya told EAT news that I was not shock after hearing this because this is the mentality of Indians. We don’t like wasting things, be it whatever and try to finish it before adapting something new. She also blamed administration for not keeping a check during initial days of implementation.
While Shreya acted as a well-informed citizen, Gagan was confused what will be the replacement? ‘I am not saying this is a bad decision but where is the replacement? Our lives are so much dependent on plastic, especially polythene. In India usage of polythene is much higher than any other country, I feel. We use it for food, clothes, education materials, what not? Before coming up with this decision, people should have been informed about alternatives’, said 40 years old Gagan. He added, saying transparency and imbalance between administration and people is a reason behind failed policies and campaigns.
Despite the quality of plastic being light weight, durable and people’s dependency on it makes life difficult for marine life, animals and the future generation. Ministry of Information and Broadcasting tweeted about the ban on manufacturing, import, stocking, distribution, sale and use of SUP items as per Plastic Waste Management (Amendment) Rules 2022. Although, MyGovIndia suggested some of the alternatives like jute bags, khadi bags, cloth bags, bamboo straws and cutlery for dining, use of steel boxes instead of thin plastic boxes, avoid ice cream in plastic containers and go for bricks or cones that can consume easily. It also said, prefer using fresh food that frozen food that have plastic packaging and stop using plastic water bottles and use steel or copper flasks. MyGovIndia is a platform launched by administration of India in 2014 to promote active participation of Indian citizens in development and governance.
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