July 1 : Taking the fight to plastic The menace all around

The more correct term could be ‘phase out’ but phase it out by 2022. This was probably the objective of Prime Minister Narendra Modi when he announced that India would be working towards a plastic free environment. This was what the Plastic Waste Management Amendment Rules of 2021 had in mind with the Ministry of Environment taking pains to explain that the process would be implemented in three phases. It is in line with this that the BJP led Government at Imphal too had announced its plan to take the fight to single use plastic but it is still not yet clear on whether the process of phasing out single use plastic products has been put into motion or not. Or is it a question of the process starting from July 1 ? Questions at the moment, but what should be an irrefutable answer is the point that any ban or process of phasing out single use plastic products will largely depend on the co-operation of the people. The convenience of single use plastic need not be over emphasised here. Take a look at any road side tea hotel which is doing brisk business and in the process taking care of the needs of the family including the education of their little ones and the tea that is sold there comes in throw away plastic cups. Same is the case with polythene bags which are used to package anything from the daily household needs such as vegetables, dressed chicken, pork, fish or any other goods and the reliance of today’s generation on single use plastics cannot be overemphasised. Going shopping today no longer means the need to carry a shopping bag as a big plastic carry bag can easily accommodate the other plastic wrapped goods such as vegetable and even meat and fish and clearly single use plastic has entered every household today. The convenience apart, everyone seems to know the harmful effect of rampant use of plastics on the environment. The recent downpour (it may continue) should more than underline the point that majority of the local floods that one witnessed in each and every leikai and leirak were due to clogged drains. And it was the plastic waste that clogged the free runway of the water leading to overflooding, with water entering houses in each and every leikai. Take a look at all the major waterways such as Nambul River, Imphal River and Naga Nullah and one will get more than a fair idea of how single use plastics have blocked the free passage of the water which should otherwise flow naturally.
What is the alternative then may well be the question. The answer should be more than easy. It was not always like this. Get hold of a jute or cloth carry bag. Let each and every household have at least more than one such bag. Let people return to the paper bags, the chekhaos that were used to wrap anything from loose sugar to potatoes, onions, even salt before the packaged salt made its way to the market. One here is talking about three, four or five decades back and going back to these would not qualify to taking the people backward. Rather it could mean taking up the right course of action which has been abandoned in mankind’s search for convenience. The time to act is now and while youngsters who have grown up on a staple of plastic carry bags, plastic throw away cups and other plastic products, may find it difficult in coping with a world sans single use plastic, it should be made more than clear that the danger posed by rampant use of single use plastic far outweighs the positives. It is the flood, the clogged drains and khongbans that one may be worried about now, but continue the indiscriminate use of single use plastics and the result could be catastrophic. Apart from the people, the Government too should give a certain sense of commitment to the July 1 deadline that has been announced.