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Javadekar raps states for not acting on plastic ban

                                                                     The Times of India, New Delhi, 18th February, 2015

 Vishwa Mohan

NEW DELHI: Union environment minister Prakash Javadekar on Tuesday pulled up state authorities for not strictly implementing rules on plastic waste management and ban of plastic carry bags. He asked them and officials of his own ministry to "act" on the larger interest of the people of the country by strictly adhering to all green laws.


"We have the laws, but we don't implement (them) ... We must impose ... and the new government's commitment is on compliance," Javadekar said while addressing officials from across the country here at a workshop on linkages between national and state action plan on climate change.


He said there was an urgent need to "impose" the existing laws to protect country's air, water and forest resources.


Referring to ban of plastic bag, the environment minister said plastic bags measuring 40 microns and below in width were totally banned in the country.


He said, "We have law on actions which we can take to make India a plastic carry bag waste free country. But, we don't take any action ... We can ban production ... but we don't act.


"You must act on the larger interest of the people. Our vision is very clear — clean water, clean air, clean energy, clean environment and more green. You have to play around it".


Sources in the ministry said that a recent raid conducted by the pollution control authorities in Delhi revealed that several unregistered units were manufacturing plastic bags of below 40 microns despite the ban.


"Since imposing penalties on manufactures is not enough, environment ministry in association with state pollution control authorities is planning to launch a massive awareness programme against the use of plastic carry bags", said an official.


The problem of plastic waste is not restricted to India. It has taken the shape of a big global problem, affecting ocean and aquatic lives. A recent study on 'Plastic Waste Inputs from Land Into the Ccean' — published in the journal Science — has estimated that plastic debris entering into the ocean from 192 coastal countries reached somewhere between 4.8 and 12.7 million metric tonne in 2010.


Referring to the findings, the Ocean Conservancy — a Washington-based organization which educates and empowers citizens from across the globe to protect ocean and aquatic life — said "the study demonstrates that the sheer volume of plastic in the ocean is order of magnitude greater than what has been previously estimated. In the next decade our ocean could hold one pound of plastic for every three pounds of fish".


It said, "Plastic waste is not just an environmental concern. For countries where plastic consumption has outpaced waste management, there are real concerns around public health, job creation, tourism and quality of life."