Is the ban on SUP effective ? Half a litre packaged water
Sixty days down the line and the question is, ‘Is the ban on single use plastic still on or has some sort of a relaxation been given ?” This question is being raised with a reason. On July 1 this year the Government of India effected the ban on the manufacture, sale and use of identified single use plastic items including earbuds with plastic sticks, plastic sticks for balloons, plastic flags, candy sticks, ice-cream sticks, polystyrene (thermocol) for decoration, plastic plates, cups, cutlery such as forks, spoons, knives, straw, trays, wrapping or packing films around sweet boxes, invitation cards, cigarette packets, plastic or PVC banners stirrers, etc. Natural that the State Government would follow suit and in a bid to discourage single use plastic, the BJP led Government at Imphal also announced a ban on half litre bottled water and plastic/polythene carry bags of a certain thickness. Sixty days since the ban on single use plastic came into force but the important question is whether the ban has been effective or not. As anyone living in Imphal would know, plastic carry bags or polythene bags continue to be used widely. Half a litre of packaged water bottle has also made some sort of a come back, after the initial days of the ban coming into force. Today it has gone beyond the ‘Shak Mai Yengnaraga Piba Half a Litre of Packaged Water Bottle’ but is available at the leikai shops. How about use of plastic cups at the many roadside hotels and eateries ? The Government should know better or was the ban announced just for effect with no plans to follow it up ? Manufacture of plastic carry bags may have stopped at the big factories located across the country, but how about such bags that come in from across the border through the Moreh-Imphal route ? Drugs and other items such as smuggled gold being confiscated along the said route is a regular news item but so far the media, at least The Sangai Express, has not heard of any such plastic carry bags being impounded while being taken to Imphal from across the border. The natural question that follows is, has Manipur or more particularly Imphal seen any drop in the rate of plastic pollution after the ban came into effect from July 1 ? With no systematic study being conducted along this line, it is difficult to come out with a definite answer, but a cursory look around will more than testify that plastic continues to litter the roadsides and the nullahs, khongbans, and other water ways.
The convenience of plastic carry bags need not be elaborated here. It is convenient and one can easily pack a dressed fish, dressed chicken, pork or any other fresh meat with ease in such carry bags. It is also convenient in the sense that one need not necessarily be out for shopping but just pick up some vegetables or even fish and chicken while being out for the day. The downside however is there for all to see. This is where it becomes important for the Government to look for other materials which may be easy to use. There was a time when chekhaos or paper containers, not exactly a bag, were used in every shop to carry the day’s purchase such as a kilogram of sugar or salt or onion or even potatoes. Perhaps this is the time for all to go back to the past and seriously study how people carried on without the use of plastic containers. There was a time when carrying a jute bag or a cloth bag was a necessity while out shopping for the day. All the vegetables, plus fish and meat used to go into such bags and it did not make life tougher in any sense of the word. Let the roadside hotels go back to using glasses. Washing it should be part of the duty of running a hotel or a tea joint. The bottomline is, the Government will need to do more than just make an announcement. The people will need to do much more than just listen or read the announcement of the Government but act on it. It should be the joint responsibility of the people and the Government.