Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

Even though the Odisha government has banned single-use plastic bags, the rule has gone for a toss in Cuttack as there is a free run in the circulation of the item in the Millenium City.

In a bid to curb the grave environmental issues arising due to the rampant use of single-use plastic bags, the government had enacted the ban rule across the State on October 2, 2019.

The rule was sternly implemented initially for a few days. However, following the outbreak of Covid-19, there was a shift in focus with the local administration, and complacency crept in gradually. 

As a result, rampant use of these polythene bags resurfaced in Cuttack markets. These non-biodegradable bags continue to be used in the city without any hindrances despite a major drive against them.

The use of plastic bags is not only rampant among vegetable vendors and grocery shop owners, but even huge stores have failed to come out with an alternative.

The banned plastic items are found in large quantities in overflowing garbage bins and drains also. These plastics also get burnt along with the garbage, creating environmental issues. Many times the drains are getting choked by polythene bags resulting in flood-like situation during rainy days. Stray animals often consume plastic bags which are turning out to be fatal for them.

“The district administration is conducting surprise raids. However, after a few days of strict restriction, the use of single-use plastic bags is continuing unabated. It can’t be curbed totally unless and until the administration comes up with proper alternatives,” said Amarendra Mohapatra, a denizen of Cuttack.

Though the vendors were not allowed to use polythene sheets of less than 100-micron thickness for storing, transporting, dispensing, or packaging any article or commodity or food items, consumables, packaging of milk and milk products, and edible oil in a sealed manner, there are no takers for the single-use plastic ban.

Meanwhile, environmentalists have expressed their concern over health and environmental hazards due to the rampant use of single-use plastic bags.

“In a bid to stop the use of single-use plastic bags, the government should appoint a nodal officer in every district. The officers will be accountable for strict implementation of the ban. Any vendor giving his product in single-use plastic bags to the customers will be answerable and punishable,” said environmentalist, Abhay Ranjan Patnaik.

As per Cuttack Municipal Corporation Commissioner (CMC) sources, the ban on single-use plastic will be implemented strongly in coming days.

“Implementing the ban for a few days in between is not going to serve the purpose. We have to come up with proper modalities for the implementation of the ban, and we are looking forward to it,” said CMC Commissioner, Nikhil Pavan Kalyan.

Meanwhile, intellectuals are of the opinion that proper education, awareness and stringent laws are the keys to effective implementation of the ban.