Ban on plastic less than 20 microns creates confusion, citizens demand a blanket ban
GUWAHATI: Guwahati generates around 3700 kg of plastic garbage every day. A leading NGO ‘Environ’ decomposes nearly 2.90 lakh kgs of plastic daily. Use of plastic mineral water bottles and cups is a common sight in the majority of government functions including those attended by Ministers and babus.
The above three instances are evident as how the ban on use of plastic has turned into a farce in Assam.
On April 29 this year, the Forest and Environment department had imposed a ban on manufacturing, sale and use of plastics less than 20 microns. However, a quick walk through the State’s capital city is enough to realize the futility of such a ban. Rampant use of such plastic products can be detected everywhere. Moreover, most of the shopkeepers are not even aware about the imposition of such a ban on plastic and generously make use of it.
Deputy Commissioner of Kamrup (Metropolitan) district Biswajit Pegu was candid enough to admit that adequate awareness campaigns have not been carried out in his district to sensitize the people in general and the traders in particular about the ban on using plastic products less than 20 microns, due to various constraints. He, however, said it is also difficult to measure each and every plastic product whether those are below 20 microns or not.
It is not only Kamrup (Metropolitan) district. Other districts are also not an exception when it comes to banning the use of plastic products. And how could one expect an exception when use of plastic is rampant in Janata Bhawan, government offices and all official functions?
“It is a tragic irony that law makers are themselves breaking laws. The Forest and Environment department has imposed the ban. But visit to any office of the Forest department will be enough to see a blatant violation of the ban. It is a lame excuse for various government departments and officials that it is difficult to measure plastic products whether those are below or above 20 microns. If it is difficult to measure plastic products less than 20 microns, how would the government ban plastic? I have not attended any government function organized without using plastic products,” Amjad Ali, an environment activist said.
The plastic menace has not even spared the educational institutions. Even though the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) issued a circular asking its affiliated institutions to completely shun plastic items at their campus, not a single school in Assam has so far fully acted on the circular.
“Banning bottles, wrappers, packaging, bags, cups, plates, tumblers made of plastic or polystyrene on school premises and in school canteen, and encouraging use of alternative biodegradable products will help sensitize students about the ills of using plastic,” the CBSE circular issued in 2018 to all its affiliated schools in the country said. Most of the schools have argued that the circular sounds good but difficult to implement. Teachers of these schools are not even aware of the State Government’s ban on plastic.
“Even schools which groom the future generation, violate the circular on plastic ban. So what kind of future is waiting for us? If something drastic is not done to prevent use of plastic products, it will pose a grave threat to the State. Besides the clogged drains, the Bharalu, the Deepor Beel and even some parts of the Brahmaputra are getting clogged with plastic wastes and garbages – These are ominous signs. Plastic carry bags, bottles and cups clog most of the drains in the city that results in massive artificial floods,” Bibhuti Choudhury, another environment activist said. So will Dispur wake up now to mitigate the threat posed by plastic? Or will it wait till plastic devastates our lives and environment?