Plastic Ban In Uttarakhand:A Crucial Environmental Issue
Pollution caused due to plastic is a serious environmental issue and a pressing concern. The use of plastic in state of Uttarakhand has been banned by the government, although the government has issued a complete blanket ban on the use of plastic but the effects of this is incomplete. The vendors and retailer around the streets commonly use plastic bags as these bags are economical and easily available, their complete wipe – out is a difficult task. The government of India has also under its Swachh Bharat mission which is based solely on cleaning India initiative has regulated ban on plastic bags.
The World Environment Day 2018 which was hosted by India with the theme of “Beat Plastic Pollution” aims to end the use of plastic in India. The question of great public importance has been raised as the inhabitants of the state of Uttarakhand are unaware about the plastic ban which was imposed by the chief minister in 2018.However the judgment of Uttarakhand High Court in Lalit Miglani vs State of Uttarakhand & others which directed that all the plastic and polythene manufacturing units in the state should be completely banned. Plastic has indiscriminately created havoc on the fragile ecology of the state of Uttarakhand. Plastic has a life of more than 100 years also it decreases the fertility of land. Plastic bags can choke waterways and exacerbate natural disasters. Uttarakhand has various water bodies and plastic bag littering in them can result clogging drainage system contributed to devastating effects.
The court has also created an obligation on the state to launch a special campaign to make the people aware to use of paper and jute bags. Irrespective of the judgment of court, plastic is regularly used in the state. The Uttarakhand Environment Protection and Pollution Control Board (UEPPCB) is responsible for the prevention and protection of environment in the state with objective of preserving natural resources and maintaining the ecological sustainability. The board working in consonance with the clean Ganga initiative in an order of NGT totally prohibit the use of any kind of plastic i.e. plastic bags (irrespective of their thickness), cutlery, plastic, plates etc in the entire towns located at the bank of river Ganga or its tributaries and a complete prohibition on manufacturing and sale of the plastic products in these areas.
In the United Nations report on single- use plastic- A roadmap on sustainability, suggested that in order to ban plastic, Public-private partnerships and voluntary agreements can initiated and can achieve reductions in the consumption of single use plastics, like in the case of Austria. The progressive introduction of voluntary reduction strategies can be a great way to successfully allow enough time for the population to begin changing consumption patterns and for affordable and eco-friendly alternatives to become available in the market.
In several developed and developing countries, the introduction of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) and deposit-return schemes has proven effective in reducing littering. Deposit-return schemes involve consumers paying a small extra fee every time they buy a particular type of product. They get the money back when they bring the empty containers to a collection point often a “reverse vending machine” positioned in a market. This will curb the illegal dumping and burning of plastic and this can reduce littering and boost recycling.
The government of Uttarakhand can provide incentives and tax rebates or other conditions to support its transition of imposing ban on plastic. However, Governments will face resistance from the plastics industry, including importers and distributors of plastic packaging. To limit resistance. The government can, in order to resist the industries from production of plastic can introduce Tax rebates and financial incentives to stimulate production of cost-effective alternatives to plastic bags. In order to execute a complete blanket ban of plastic bags (or any single use plastic), governments may wish to verify the presence of valid alternatives. In order to scrutinize, plastic ban the state government can in act a single purposive act which solely focus on plastic ban in the state. This act needs penal provision to be imposed on the manufacturer, retailer and consumer and UEPPCB should be handed with powers for regulation and implementation of plastic ban laws under the act. The government should encourage retailers to offer the consumer an alternative of plastic. The government can include all the schemes and incentive so as to provide an obligation towards the citizen to follow the rule enacted under the Act.
The author is a law student at University of Petroleum & Energy Studies.