Ban on polythene ineffective

Considering the harmfulness of polythene bags to the environment and human health, the Government twice ordered imposition of ban on the use of polythene bags. Even the High Court, too, expressed its concern over the polythene bags causing environmental degradation and becoming the source of air and water pollution.  Shopkeepers and vendors have been frequently using polythene bags as carry home bags for their customers. The customers, after they no more need thee bags, throw them into the drains of on the streets and these ultimately become the source of air and water pollution.
It is regrettable that municipal and environmental authorities in the state have failed to enforce the orders of the Government in letter and in spirit. For some time in the beginning when the ban order was issued, shopkeepers did observe it but then owing to negligence and non- seriousness of the authorities, the old practice of using the polythene was resumed. As per the Plastic Waste Management and Handling Rules, the Urban Local Bodies-Municipal Corporations, Municipal Committees and Municipal Councils are required to enforce ban on polythene by conducting raids, searches and market checking. Similarly, in the rural areas of the State, Rural Development Department is required to enforce ban through its field functionaries. After seizure of banned polythene bags, these agencies are required to hand over the same to J&K Pollution Control Board, which thereafter get the shredding of the polythene bags conducted before putting the same to auction for recycling. We have reports that in the early days when the ban order was implemented, good quantity of seized polythene bags were handed over. But with the passage of time slackness crept into the administrative mechanism and the shopkeepers resumed the use of these bags, no more collections were brought to collection centers. This indicates that owing to slackness and non functional behavior of the supervisory authority the orders of the Government have been thrown to wind and environmental pollution of Jammu and Kashmir continues unabated. On April 3, 2017, Minister for Forest and Environment convened a hurriedly called press-conference and announced that Government has put a blanket ban on polythene bags manufactured below 50 microns with immediate effect and all possible measures will be taken to prevent State’s environment and ecology getting polluted. He even announced that directions have been passed to all concerned departments for strict implementation of the ban. This is the third time that the Government agency has come out with a reminder that the ban on polythene bags has to be enforced in letter and in spirit.
The question is that by repeating the order thrice, the inference is that there is some serious slackness in the execution of orders. The agency that is responsible for proper execution is not functioning properly. It has to be made active and effective. While polythene bags are banned Jammu Municipal Corporation should suggest alternative that is environment friendly. Also, if it is possible to improve the quality of polythene to the extent that the improvised quality proves no threat to the environment the Municipal authorities should try it.
We would also like that people especially shopkeepers and vendors change their behavior and begin to respect the orders of the Government. Why should it become necessary for the Government to take punitive measures against the defaulters when the order of banning polyether bags is useful to them and their children also as good and law abiding citizens? Our citizenry has to rise to the occasion and become responsive to the orders of the Government. Furthermore since the environmental committee of the Legislative Assembly has also emphasized that polythene bags should be banned, it become the duty of members of the legislature to perform their role in ensuring that at least in their respective constituencies polythene bags are not used. That would contribute to the health and clean environment.