Astonishingly the State authorities are unable to implement own order and also the order of the High Court regarding ban on use of polythene. Polythene has been declared as damaging the environment and hence its use by human beings remains disallowed. The first ever notification issued by the J&K Government prohibiting the use of polythene bags or related material was made in around 2008.
Polythene is difficult to destroy unless it is consigned to flames. Even by burning it emits smoke that is highly injurious to the health of humans, animals and birds. This is the reason why its use has been banned. The problem in our State is that there are plethora of laws but makes no sense if the law is not implemented. In the case of polythene there is Jammu and Kashmir State Non-Biodegradable Material (Management Handling and Disposal) Act, 2007. It prohibits the use of polythene. In normal course of things there should not have been any need for more notifications and orders for stopping the use of polythene. That, however, is not the case and a slew of orders followed the Act emphasizing upon people not to use polythene carry bags. The High Court of the State ordered no use of the stuff and then the Forest Department, taking support of the Act mentioned above also issued an order/notification banning the use of polythene carry bags. The situation on the ground is that none of these orders and instructions has been implemented uniformly. In the month of November 2013, a Division Bench, while expressing displeasure over the menace of polythene still plaguing the State, observed that had serious attention been paid towards strict enforcement of ban the situation could have improved up to certain extent. Even Committee on Environment of State Legislature had also recommended that the ban on polythene should be strictly implemented.
In the latest notification, the ban has also been imposed on manufacture, stocking, distribution, sale and use of polythene carry bags, plastic sheets or like, cover made of plastic sheet, plastic packaging and multi-layered packaging less than 50 microns thickness within the territorial limits of Jammu and Kashmir
Despite recommendations from various sources, the Act against pollution and appeals by various stakeholders, polythene bags continue to be used in the State of J&K. Law enforcing authorities are somehow overlooking gross violation of the law and allow venders and shopkeepers to handover purchased stuff to the seller wrapped in a plastic bag. Obviously, there is a nexus between the producers and suppliers of the stuff on the one hand and the law enforcing authority on the other. We believe that the Government shall have to come out of inertia and revamp the law enforcing machinery that is supposed to see to it that the polythene bags disappear from the State. At the same time the Government should come out with options which would replace the polythene bags. Some new stuff that would not be harmful and injurious to human and animal life has to be found out.