From the last few days, there is less open availability of polythene in markets across Srinagar. This perhaps follows the constitution of an eight-member Special Task Force headed by the Chief Secretary for “elimination of Single Use Plastic and addressing the issue of plastic pollution” in J&K.
However there is still large scale use of the polythene carry bags and other single use plastic. The problems brought by it also remain unabated. As all analysts would agree, the plastic bags of less than 50 micron in thickness, which are rampantly used, are the ones that are not recycled. The failure of any regulatory action encourages violators. There is already legislation that provides for penalizing users of banned plastic carrier bags as well as vendors dealing in them. While the onus was on the civic bodies to enforce the legislations, unfortunately the success in terms of compliance is far from adequate. The consequences of the lackadaisical approach by the authorities have meant that there is continuous 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 no genuine efforts have been made by many states in India as well as countries globally to deal with the problem.
Nevertheless, the J&K government has taken an important step by forming the task force for preparing a comprehensive Action Plan for implementation of provisions of Plastic Waste Management Rules 2016, and enforcement of the ban on single use plastic items, organize regular meetings of State Level Monitoring Committee for purpose of monitoring of implementation of the PWM Rules 2016, leverage funds available under Swachh Bharat Mission 2.0 for development of waste management infrastructure to mitigate plastic pollution in J&K and effectively strategize the implementation of SRO 231 dated 26-03-2019, for banning Single Use Plastic (SUP).
It is hoped that the administration will also manage the problem scientifically and utilize best global practices in the management of plastic waste and adopt it accordingly.