Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Aug 18:
Four years on, the Odisha capital is yet to enforce polythene use ban which poses pollution hazards to the city environment. Besides, it is choking the city drainage system resulting in artificial flooding during monsoon and unseasonal rains.
The state government had put restrictions on use of polythene below 40 micron width on February 7, 2011 in view of the perils associated with it. However, the use of the polythene bags below permissible limits is as routine now as it was four years ago when the ban was imposed.
In a clear indication of the priority it attaches to the issue, the state government hasn’t even set up a waste treatment plant in the capital city.
Notably, the government had banned use and sale of the polythene carry bags below 40 microns as they are neither reusable nor recyclable for other uses.
“The black polythene carry bags which people generally prefer to take home non-vegetarian products such as—chicken, fish, mutton and eggs— in are more harmful to health. The polythene manufacturers use harmful chemicals to increase the opacity of the product. When food products come in contact with the black coloured polythene bags, it becomes poisonous,” an expert said.
With the rampant use of polythene bags, the plastic bags are going down the drains and sewerage lines resulting in clogged drains.
“The capital city releases 550 tonnes of waste every day of which 40 percent constitute polythene bags. These waste materials are non-recyclable. The piles of these plastic bags are a cause of concern as there is no waste treatment plant in the city. The state government hasn’t given much emphasis on construction of waste treatment plant even after three years of banning polythene,” a senior environmental scientist of the Odisha State Pollution Control Board (OSPCB) said on condition of anonymity.
“In the absence of a treatment plant, the wastes are being sent to a cement unit in Badagad in the city for treatment which is cost-intensive. Earlier, Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) used to collect the waste and send it to the unit. However, it has gradually reduced,” he added.
It may be mentioned here that the reusable polythene bags are costly as a result of which the traders are preferring the low quality banned products over others. Moreover, the eco-friendly bags are not being manufactured in Odisha.
“We have initiated several awareness programmes in shopping malls, shops and busy areas in the city urging people not to opt for these polythene bags. We have noticed that some of the malls are using paper bags instead of polythene ones. We are contemplating taking action against low-grade polythene manufacturers and users,” BMC Environment Officer, Bikram Keshari Routray said.