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Needed: focus on health hazards from plastic

Guwahati produces 500 MT of garbage a day, plastic materials alone share 20% of the total collection; more than 90% not recycled

GUWAHATI, June 4: Plastic materils that comprise 20 per cent of the 500 metric tonnes of garbage produced in Guwahati a day pose a serious health hazards among Guwahatians. Despite the ban on the use plastic materials below certain thickness health hazards from plastic materials are going beyond control. Will the authority concerned do something tangible to arrest the menace?

The rapid expansion of Guwahati metro has been turning into a nightmare to human as well as environmental health as the city is forced to absorb an ever-increasing population and the leftovers eventually generated by it. In one hand, due to this massive urbanization, the density of green cover is decreasing every day while on the other hand; usage of plastic materials is increasing bizarrely. The way of life in the city is switching to such an extent that the usage of plastic has become almost inexorable. Consequently, plastic waste produced in Guwahati city has become a grave concern. The growing statistic of plastic waste generated in the city is even more terrible.

An official source revealed that currently around 500 MT of garbage is collected from Guwahati every day out of which plastic alone shares 20% of the total collection which is obviously a pointer to the human health hazard and artificial flood seasonally faced by the city residents. Moreover, around 8 MT of different plastic coated packets are collected in a day. What is more significant and alarming to us is that, even 10% of the garbage collected a day is not recycled. Hence, 90% or above the total collection goes to the open dumping grounds.

Sale and storage of non-biodegradable plastic bags less than 50 microns is banned. However the question remains, who monitors this regulation? It was speculated that the widespread campaign through the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan would change the public habit of disposing their waste. Contrary, the phenomenon is ever-increasing. Moreover, the World Environment Day which is observed on June 5 every year conducts various programmes focusing on the environmental challenges and health hazards created directly or indirectly by plastic produce and its usage. Despite all these, there is no sign of decline of plastic usage among the masses. In contrast, apart from individual residents, the public spaces, like the drainages, highways, bus and train stops, office premises, markets and road everywhere the thickness of waste is quite indiscriminate. Will the discourse on public hygiene, scheme and campaign on it perpetually remain an irony?