Plastic Ban in India — A Myth?

With the awakening to protect the environment, governments across the world are taking measures to do their part and reduce the harm being done to the government. One such measures taken very seriously in India is the banning of the usage of plastic in the country. When seen historically, the first plastic ban in the country dates back to 1997 when a magistrate in the state of Kerala banned transparent plastics. After this a number of attempts have been made across the country to ban the usage of plastic and in spite of this we still have not been able to ban the usage of plastic in our country completely. This raises an important question that we need to look into to understand where we went wrong, if the implementation of the ban was not effective enough to put an end to the usage of plastic.

The fact is that governments are not implementing the ban seriously because if they would have been then we would have achieved the goal of plastic ban by this time. But instead what is happening in reality is that governments keep passing laws to ban plastic and people follow that for a few days and then get back to using plastic. It was seen that the most populous state in the country, Uttar Pradesh, had announced that plastic cups and polythene bags would be banned in the state. It should be noted that this was the third attempt by the government to ban the use of plastic in the country. This is what makes it necessary for us to reflect as to why we are needing so many attempts to ban the plastic usage. In this case it was seen that the local authorities had refused to adhere to the plastic ban despite of the court orders to do so.

Before exploring the extent of effectiveness of the implementation we need to understand the difficulties that the economy faces in the way of adaption. Firstly, what needs to be noted is that considering our widespread poverty, plastic comes as a cheap alternative when compared to cloth bags which are being used to replace plastic bags. This is why people are reluctant to switch to cloth bags instead of plastic ones. Secondly, it needs to be explained to the plastic manufacturers that they should stop this and instead look out for other alternatives. It is easier to look at it this way that if plastic is not manufactured then it obviously cannot be used. But for this the manufacturers would need great assistance from the authorities which needs to be provided to them.

Also, what we see often is that though the big supermarkets charge us for the cloth bags and have stopped using plastic, the smaller shops in the locality still use the plastic bags. I believe it needs to also come as a conscious effort from the side of the public that they should not accept the plastic bags and demand for some other alternative. Yet again it should be understood that these small shops would be in no position to afford cloth bags. All of these obstacles can be overcome by just an effort from our side, for instance when going to these small stores may be we could carry a cloth bag ourselves so that it is easier for them.

The first thing that needs to come from the side of the government is a clear set of laws as to what the provisions of a plastic ban is and then also the meting out of punishments for those who violate the law. The implementation should be monitored with the help of a body or authority who closely keeps an eye on the violators and gives them punishment so that at least there would be a fear if someone wants to violate this and look for ways to still use the plastic.

A uniform law needs to be passed across the country with serious legal repercussions if not followed. This is the only way that people will follow the ban sincerely. Otherwise, they look for loopholes so that they will have not have to stop using plastic. Moreover, there is a need for self conscious effort from every individual who should feel the responsibility to not use the plastic bags. Since time immemorial we have been trying to ban the use of plastic and it is high time that we come together as a country and stop it once and for all.

Picture Credits : dnaindia

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