Srinagar, Feb 4: Despite the blanket ban on single-use plastic items, the rampant use of polythene is significantly contributing to the environmental pollution in Jammu & Kashmir’s summer capital – Srinagar – and other parts of the valley.
The authorities at the Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) said they hold anti-polythene drives regularly and on a monthly basis while seeking public support to stop its use.
An official looking into the implementation of the ban on the use of polythene bags in Srinagar said that though regular drives are held, public support is needed to make the environment plastic and polythene-free.
“To ensure the implementation of the ban of single-use plastic, we have a dedicated separate team with a nodal officer, but more than enforcement, it is public cooperation that can make a difference,” the official said.
The seized polythene bags are handed over to the J&K Pollution Control Board, he added.
The High Court of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh (then High Court of J&K) banned the entry, use and sale of polythene bags at tourist destinations and healthcare institutions in 2006.
The official said that not just a dedicated team, the SMC has even empowered the Ward Officers to impose fines and seize polythene bags. He, however, added that the sale of polythene is a “big nexus”, and to break it, they need public support.
“People should understand and realise how hazardous the use of polythene is for the environment and health,” the official said. He said polythene bags are also the main reason for drain blockades. “It also leads to the contamination of water bodies,” he added.
Chief Enforcement Officer SMC said that the corporation is going to start many awareness programmes in the near future in schools where they will highlight the negative aspects of the usage of polythene bags and the damage it causes to the environment.
On June 18, 2008, the J&K government issued SRO 182 in accordance with the J&K Non-Biodegradable Material (Management, Handling, and Disposal) Act, 2007, banning all types of polythene bags in the state. However, successive governments have been unable to put the prohibition into effect.
In wake of that, Jammu and Kashmir Pollution Control Committee (JKPCC) last year issued a public notice prohibiting the production, stocking, distribution, sale and use of single-use plastic in the Union Territory.
In Srinagar, be it the roadside vendors selling fruits or vegetables, or shopkeepers; the use of polythene is open while the same is available in the wholesale markets as well.
In 2014, expressing displeasure over the non-compliance of its directions on the polythene ban, the High Court directed 14 deputy commissioners of the then- state to show cause as to why contempt proceedings should not be initiated against them “for defiance of the court orders.”
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