Blanket ban on polythene bags

For quite some time, the use of polythene bags has been a subject of debate in the circles of scientists, sociologists and politicians. Though the polythene carry bags were considered very lightweight and sustainable yet since its use has been considered health hazard besides being environment hazard also, the Pollution Control Board of the State has come out with a blanket order saying that all polythene bags stand banned irrespective of their thickness. It will be recalled that earlier under SRO 45 the Government had imposed bon on all polythene bags except those of 50 microns and above thickness in deference of the orders of the High Court. But PCB while issuing the ban order also directed officers authorized for compounding of offences by the Government under Section 13 of J&K Non Biodegradable (Management, Handling and Disposal) Act 2007 to act as per SRO 182 till further orders.
A PIL was filed in the High Court seeking ban on use of polythene bags within specific limits of the Pahalgam Development Authority. In this PIL the High Court had issued orders which became the basis of SRO. But under new orders even these 50 microns and above polythene bags hitherto exempted are also subjected to a ban. The High Court vide order dated 7.12.2017 in PIL Pahalgam People’s Welfare Organization V/S State has directed enforcement of complete ban on polythene carry bags by following SRO 182. It has further directed not to Act on SRO 45 till the matter is examined and considered by the Court. However, the enforcement of the order shall be after January 15 next year.
In the order of the Pollution Control Board (PCB) district authorities have been categorically told to enforce the order in letter and in spirit. We have seen that despite the court order and the implementation part by the Government, the use of polythene bags had not been totally discarded and shopkeepers and vendors managed to keep small stocks hidden somewhere. In this way the purpose of imposing ban on these bags was not served. Polythene bags have been considered a big environmental hazard because it does not get destroyed that easy and when burnt the air pollution becomes much more dangerous, Therefore, the Government had no choice to put blanket ban on the use of polythene bags in the State. We have seen that in most of the other states, banning of polythene has been successful to a large extent but in our State shopkeepers and vendors are soft paddling with it. The customers should refuse to carry purchases in polythene bags and they should keep cloth bags with them for shopping purposes. However, this time it appears that the Government is really serious in eradicating the menace of the polythene bags. All Deputy Commissioners of the State have been asked to supervise the enforcement and District Officers of the PCB directed to act as Nodal Officers for seizure and shall report to concerned DCs and Regional Directors of the Board on fortnight basis. These are all appreciable steps and if implemented with all seriousness, it should be possible to get rid of this menace. However, we would like to say that the shopkeepers or vendors and the customers all have also important responsibility of refusing to take away things in a polythene bags. If they refuse, the shopkeepers will not dear to use the bags clandestinely and in the process we will be safe from the havoc which the polythene bags wreck.


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