Plastic is everywhere. Perhaps the problems brought by it keeping on growing. In the absence of alternatives, more and better plastic recycling remains the answer. However, as all analysts agree, the plastic bags of less than 50 micron in thickness are rampantly used and they are the ones that are not recycled. The failure of any regulatory action encourages violators. There is already legislation that provides for fining users of banned plastic carrier bags as well as vendors dealing in them. While the onus was on the civic bodies to enforce the legislation, they have turned a blind eye. The consequences of the lackadaisical approach by the authorities have meant that there is continuous, rather extensive use of the polythene and subsequent dumping of it in lanes, drains, roads, fields and water bodies. The waste is generated in tonnes every day and continues to cause a serious threat to the environment. The huge quantum of plastic waste remains unattended despite various directives and guidelines issued by the Government from time to time.
Abandoned to nature, the plastic lasts for centuries, breaking apart into ever smaller pieces but never assimilating into earth or water. The first challenge is to stop any more of this plastic from reaching the water bodies. Bigger landfills aren’t a lasting solution. They can contaminate surrounding water and soils.
It is undeniable that the plastic waste issue remains one of the pressing problems globally. But what is undeniable also is the fact that genuine efforts have been made by many states in India as well as countries globally to deal with the problem. However, in Jammu and Kashmir context, the municipalities, both Srinagar and Jammu, have not adopted even the segregation of bio-degradable, recyclable and domestic hazardous wastes. A process of its implementation was to be completed by December 2019 and despite strict orders by National Green Tribunal, hardly anything changed on the ground. There is still no system of surprise checking of littering, open burning of plastic and other acts which cause public discomfiture.
Immediately, the administration can limit the production of polythene to a possible minimum and restrict its transportation into the J&K. Also, it is necessary for the administration to manage the problem scientifically. The government should have to keep an eye on the best global practices in the management of plastic waste and adopt it accordingly. The government must comprehend the gravity and take such steps that are required to prevent a disastrous situation.