Rampant violation of plastic ban under Odisha govt’s nose poses a big threat

Slogans like ‘Beat Plastic Pollution’ and ‘Say No to Plastic Bags’ seem to have failed in Odisha as the use of polythene bags continues unabated

Bhubaneswar: Odisha government’s ban on polythene seems to be a rule just on pen and paper as use of plastics in banned areas of the State, including the capital city of Bhubaneswar, continues. Though a majority of restaurants malls and foreign liquor shops are strictly adhering to the ban, roadside vendors continue to flout the norms.

On October 2, 2018, after the Naveen Patnaik-government imposed the ban, a committee was constituted comprising officials of Commissionerate Police, Labour department, Pollution Control Board. The committee soon started raiding places around the twin cities of Bhubaneswar and Cuttack and also imposed penalty on violators. However, it seems, the drive and spirit have died down with time.

“People are not taking the ban seriously as they are unaware of the level of damage the environment is suffering. Lack of knowledge and awareness is the main hindrance,” said a member of a Berhampur-based NGO, Aryabhatt Foundation, which is engaged in creating awareness among people about the harmful effects of polythene use.

However, Suresh Mohapatra, secretary of Forest and Environment department said: “The ban had been strictly imposed in six cities, but due to the recent Assembly and Lok Sabha polls and cyclone Fani, the enforcement has taken a backseat, but we have again sent directions to the six urban bodies to strictly enforce the ban.”

Meanwhile, environmentalists are of the view that people are encouraged to use polythene because of its ‘easy availability.’ “People are easily getting polythene and due to this even if they are aware of its demerits, they are not hesitating to use such materials. The supply of polythene should be stopped,” said environmentalist, Jay Krushna Panigrahi.

Panigrahi’s concern now raises the question that though the government had banned the use of plastic bags of below 50 microns, had it banned the manufacturing of such bags too? It is believed that without strict enforcement on the supply side, it will become a big ask to keep ensure adherence.