Kanpur: Plastic bags suffocate the Ghats

KANPUR: Although, the area has been declared a `Polythene-free zone’, several people can be seen dumping the plastic bags and polythenes carrying rotten flowers, besides puja material, at Parmat Ghat.

When questioned about the state of affairs, the Kanpur Nagar Nigam officials said that they have already taken the initiative in the form of enforcing section 437 of the Nagar Nigam Act, 1959. The act was enforced on December 14 banning the use of polythene on seven ghats of the city.

As per the act, in these areas, the devotees shall not be allowed to throw plastic bags directly into the holy river. Dustbins are to be placed on the ghats. No one is supposed to bring `hawan samgri’ in plastic bags and tobacco pouches are not to be sold on these ghats. Any person found not complying with the new rules, shall be fined with an amount of Rs 200.

However, the ban seems to have had little effect on the devotees visiting the temple, who can be seen carrying polythene bags. Even the shopkeepers at these seven ghats continue to sell food items and other puja material in plastic bags, at times at the request of the customers.

On their part, Kanpur Nagar Nigam officials admitted that the ban has yet not been strictly enforced and they plan to do so in the coming week. “Before strict enforcement, awareness among the masses is important, so the officials would carry out inspection and then act against the defaulters,” said municipal commissioner, Rajeev Sharma.

Still a lot of questions remain unanswered. Like, why the enforcement of the act now? Is it the high court order warning officials to take measures to stop pollution in the Ganga that has done the trick? And then, are the measures being taken now enough or is there still a lot more to be asked? Let’s have a look at some of the issues at hand —

Why now: Although, KNN has issued orders for banning the polythene at the ghats under section 437 of the Nagar Nigam Act, 1959, on December 14 this year, it needs to be asked as to why the delay when the act was executed over four decades back. Is it mere eyewash or a formality to escape the wrath of high court for not taking any steps to check the pollution into the Ganga? If the ban was executed, why didn’t the authorities take any step to ban polythenes before? When there were provisions for not using polythenes, why were these rules not implemented?

The municipal commissioner accepts that the Act for stopping the use of polythene should have been enforced earlier. But, he blamed his predecessors for this situation. “These questions should be asked from the previous officials as to why they did not make use of the provisions. Now when we are using them, we are facing criticism,” said he.

Blame game: While the Nagar Nigam officials blame the Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board for the ineffective implementation of the ban and thus not being able to stop the use of polythenes, the Board has been washing off their hands from the responsibility by claiming itself to be merely a monitoring body.

“The ban has not been successful so far because of the absence of prosecution against the defaulters by the UPPCB officials,” said Rajeev Sharma.

The regional officer UPPCB, Radhey Shyam defending the Board said: “Since plastic units continue to produce these bags and they are making their way into markets, we cannot stop them. UPPCB being the monitoring body can just raid the manufacturing units, we cannot stop the devotees from using the polythenes.”

Lack of support from consumers: This is only adding to the menace. Polythene being cheap and handy is still preferred by the populace. The experts claim that absence of civic sense is also a cause for ineffective implementation. A shopkeeper at Parmat Ghat, Villayti Ram said: “How can you stop devotees from bringing the milk pouches. In addition, polythenes are cheap for consumers and thus after their repeated requests, customers do not carry cloth bags. We have to keep polythene bags handy, otherwise, we will lose customers.”

Lack of strict enforcement: Environmental bodies feel that polythene bags have to be phased out and that strict enforcement is the only feasible solution as the concerned agencies have failed to keep the menace in check. “The ban means nothing in the city. Despite several efforts to stop the use of plastic bags, the implementation is missing. And thus strict enforcement laws are required,” pointed out city based environmentalist, Rakesh Jaiswal.

Polythene is harmful to animals: Experts say that the polythenes can be harmful to the animals consuming them at the ghats as eating these plastics can lead to various infections and may be fatal in the long run. Explaining the hazards of plastics and polythene, director of Kanpur Zoo, Praveen Rao said: “Animals are at a huge risk after eating polythene bags because once consumed they are likely to die a slow death as the plastic gets stuck in their intestines. These things when consumed are very difficult for the animals to digest and the animals can develop infection in their intestinal tracts.”

With KNN promising to take strict action in the coming week, it remains to be seen whether the efforts would bear any fruit.

From TOI

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One Response to Kanpur: Plastic bags suffocate the Ghats

  1. sangita says:

    hi. i spend 4 years near parmat . i used to go parmat regularly. the major problem is the shopkeeprs besides the bhagtes . shoop keepers and temple authority is not seriosly handle cleaning issue. they are more faburable for their income not for ganga wellness and animals protection.

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