New Delhi: On World Environment Day, as the planet is abuzz with concerns about rampant use of plastic worldwide, some states in India have moved a step ahead.
While Uttarakhand banned the use of polythene from July 31, Tamil Nadu, Nagaland, Maharashtra and Jharkhand on Tuesday announced that they are all set to become plastic-free by 2019.
With the theme “Beat Plastic Pollution”, India played global host to 2018 World Environment Day celebrations on Tuesday.
Sikkim became the first state in 1998 to ban disposable plastic bags. In 2016, it banned the use of packaged drinking water in government offices and government events and use of Styrofoam and thermocol disposable plates in the entire state.
Chief Minister K Palaniswami told the Tamil Nadu assembly that his government would ban the use of plastic items, including non-biodegradable carry bags, from January 2019 to “gift a plastic-free” state to future generations.
“Considering the damage caused by plastic, and to ensure this is not left behind for future generations, the Amma government has decided to ban non-biodegradable plastic covers, plates, cups, water packets, straws and bags,” he said.
However, plastic sachets used to pack milk, curd and oil, besides those used to wrap medical products,would be exempted from the ban, Palaniswami said in Chennai.
Neiphiu Rio, Nagaland Chief Minister, set the December deadline to “free the state of plastic waste”.
“Plastic bags choke drains and gutters, causing them to overflow. Burning plastic also results in release of toxic gases,” Rio said, adding that people need to take measures to end the menace.
Chief Minister of Uttarakhand, Trivendra Singh Rawat, said polythene will be banned in the state from July 31. One week before the ban, a mass awareness campaign on environmental damage caused by polythene, will be undertaken in the entire state, he said.
Rawat said environment conservation is a collective responsibility and everyone will have to make their contribution to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call for building a plastic free India.
Chief Minister Raghubar Das said that Jharkhand will become plastic-free by June 5, 2019. “By June 5, 2019, Jharkhand will be plastic free. I appeal to 3.25 crore people of Jharkhand to free Jharkhand from plastic – from office to house to bazaar to village, plastic should not be seen,” Das said while addressing a programme on the World Environment Day.
Environment Minister of Maharashtra, Ramdas Kadam, said the state will be totally free of plastic in the the next one year. On March 23, the BJP-led government imposed a ban on a slew of plastic products in the state. It had issued a notification, banning manufacture, use, sale, distribution and storage of plastic materials such as one-time-use bags.
“I will not let people die of cancer, animals suffer nor let the environment be degraded further. Maharashtra will be 100% plastic-free in one year,” Kadam said.
West Bengal, Railways and Haryana take a step forward
Mamata Banerjee, Chief Minister of West Bengal, urged people to curb plastic pollution on the occasion of World Environment Day.
“Today is World Environment Day. Following this years theme, let us pledge to beat plastic pollution. Let us pledge to make every day #WorldEnvironmentDay,” the CM tweeted on Tuesday morning.
The Railways too joined in the green initiatives, saying passengers travelling on some premium trains will be served meals from Tuesday on eco-friendly, disposable plates made of bagasse, instead of those made of polymer.
The Haryana government too has now decided to ban single-use plastic water bottles in all government offices in the state.
Across the country, NGOs, educational institutions and government departments held green rallies to raise awareness on plastic pollution.
(With PTI inputs)