The Bold Voice of J&K

Use of banned polythene bags goes unchecked

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plastic bags (1)ff
After a brief decline in their usage, the visibility of polythene bags is again back to normal in the city limits and outskirts. Polythene bags can be easily found strewn on streets, floating in water bodies while they continue to be freely used by vendors and shop keepers. The huge piles of polythene used by the road side vendors seem to have gone completely out of sight of authorities. The plastic bags have not only polluted the environment, but have also become a reason for blocked drainage and sanitation at various places.
A High Court order in 2006 banned the polythene carry bags in and around tourist resorts and health care spots. As per SRO-182 issued by the State Government on 18th June, 2008, polythene carry bags are banned in the state in the light of Jammu and Kashmir Non-Biodegradable Material (Management, Handling and Disposal) Act, 2007. After the issuance of the SRO, manufacture, trade, transportation or use of polythene carry bags became illegal in the state.
It is now eight years since the State Government announced the imposition of ban on polythene usage but there is little action on ground.
Although the Jammu Municipal Corporation had formed market checking squads cracking down on polythene users, the use of alternative paper and jute bags hasn’t been widespread due to which the polythene usage has picked up again.
No doubt, the Jammu Municipal Corporation (JMC) is conducting drives to implement the decision of the High Court directing the State Government to ban polythene but still the authorities failed to get rid of the problem.
“In our locality, every shopkeeper, vendor uses polythene bags despite the ban. When no one is there to keep a check, they go by their will,” said Poornima Gupta, a resident of Kanak Mandi.
“Initially, the authorities showed a lot of enthusiasm in the implementation of polythene ban. Shops were raided and fined. However, that was rather short-lived and these poly-bags are again available in market,” shared Praveen Sharma, a resident of Purani Mandi.
When STATE TIMES talked to shopkeepers regarding this, they have another story to share. “We are in a state of confusion whether to keep plastic bags or not. When a customer comes to know that we do not have bags, they refuse to purchase items from my shop. So, I had to again start keeping plastic bags. How can I see my customers going to other shops where plastic bags are easily available?” says Ramesh Kumar, owner of a departmental store. He adds, “There should be strict laws for everyone. The concerned agencies need to make the other alternative options like jute bags, paper bags easily available in the market and that too at reasonable rates; only then can we find a permanent solution to this problem.”
“It is not just the government which has to work seriously towards ban on polythene, but common people also have to make effort on their part. There is a dire need to educate people and make them learn that there are alternatives to polythene bags and moreover, the authorities need to start campaigns and drives to educate people and also make other options available in market so that consumers can easily shift to other alternatives,” shared Sugandh Sharma, a college student. She added unless the civil society takes a pledge to stop the use of polythene, no success can be achieved.

Malu Kerni

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