The ban on plastic carry bags remains in books if the amount of plastic bags lying on the streets and being used in business is any indication in Jammu and Kashmir. Officially there is a ban on the use of such bags but not much has changed at the ground level. The State Government had introduced the ban in mid-January prohibiting all polythene bags, in accordance with a ruling by Jammu and Kashmir High Court. The State joined 17 other states and territories governed by New Delhi that have imposed a complete ban on the sale and use of plastic bags. But in reality one sees on the ground that everyday truck of load of garbage is collected by the Jammu Municipality from various parts of the city and majority of the load is the carry bags. The concerned departments have been working to check the menace but not much has changed. What is needed is stringent laws with heavy penalty and punishment to curtail the blatant use of the material. Even Centre too has called for stringent Plastic Waste Management Rules. Be it manufacturers, shopkeepers, street vendors or waste generators including individuals, institutions and organisers of big events like political rallies, religious gatherings and marriage or similar other functions, the government under the new rules enlisted certain ‘do’s’ and ‘don’ts’ for everyone and introduced a concept of “user fee” and “waste management fee” at different levels. Under the new rules, which are to be implemented within six months, the violators will have to pay penalty for not disposing of plastic waste in the prescribed manner. The amount of fine for the violators will be decided by the local civic bodies. If the new rules are properly implemented by municipal bodies in urban areas and Gram Panchayats in rural areas, shopkeepers, street vendors and users of plastic carry bags will have to move to bags of non-plastic material. Taking cue from this new legislation, Jammu Municipality can take a lead in this direction and make use of plastic a punishable offence with heavy fines on the users to regulate plastic waste management and keep the environment safe for people and drains free from blockades. With the prevailing ground situation all such ban and drive to keep the city clean under Swachh Bharat Abhiyan looks as a farce.
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