Ban on polythene at ghats goes down the drain

KANPUR: Although the district authorities have banned the use of polythenes on the ghats, one can still witness devotees using polythenes to carry milk and other stuff to various temples on the ghats.

On Monday only, a milk-vending machine was installed at Parmat ghat so that devotees do not have to bring milk in polythenes from outside, but the move has not evoked any positive response from the people.

It is to be mentioned that in December 09, the Kanpur Nagar Nigam had declared the ghats as polythene-free zones. It has also prohibited the use of plastic bags and polythenes under Section 437 of the Nagar Nigam Act. The authorities had said that anybody found violating the new rule would be penalised with Rs 200.

More so, expressing deep concern on the increasing pollution in the river Ganga, the division bench of the Allahabad High Court, comprising Justice Ashok Bhushan and Justice Arun Tandon, had recently directed the Ganga Basin Authority and the state government to take appropriate steps to ban the use of polythene in the vicinity of Ganga in the entire state.

Acting swiftly to curb the use of polythene, the district administration officials too had instructed the installation of milk vending machines at temples of five ghats. It was thought that the devotees would not be carrying milk polybags to offer at the temples as the machines would enable the devotees to get the milk from the vending machines.

However, a day after the vending machine was made operational at the Parmat ghat, the milk continued to be sold in the polybags.

While a sign board at the temple wall read ‘Mandir parisar mein polythene ka prayog purnatayah varjit hai’ (the use of polythene on temple premises is completely prohibited), the milk vendors on the other hand were seen selling milk pouches outside the temple premises without any fear.

The people were seen throwing the used polythenes in one corner, despite the enforcement of the Nagar Nigam Act at the ghats. Devotees were found using polythenes with impunity. Even the shopkeepers at the ghats were seen selling food items and other puja material in plastic bags, at times at the requests of the customers.

Municipal commissioner Vikram Singh said that the measures taken by the district authorities would not materialise unless the people also take the initiative and pledge not to use polythene on the ghats.

“We have issued challan books to our supervisors to penalise people who use polythenes commercially at the ghats. We would gradually increase the amount of fine if people continue to violate the norms. More so, people also need to be informed about the hazards of using plastic items on the ghats,” said Singh.

According to a recent report prepared by the Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board (UPPCB) officials on the basis of a survey, three cubic metres of rotten flowers and leaves are dumped at the Parmat ghat everyday which flow directly into the river Ganga. More than 0.5 cubic metres of polythene and plastic bags are disposed of at the ghat, while other solid waste amounts to 1.5 cubic metre.

Radhey Shyam, a UPPCB official, said that the public sewage that gets discharged into the river through the ghat is as high as five kilo litres per hour.

Qunitals of milk flow into Ganga every day

To curb the pollution in the Ganga, the Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board (UPPCB) had prepared a report suggesting various measures to be taken at the ghats to curb the use of polythene and check the waste going directly into the river.

“It has been observed that there is no alternative measure for safe dairy disposal. Quintals of milk is offered to the deity at the Parmat ghat but devotees are unaware that the milk flowing into the Ganga is responsible for the raised BoD level in the river. We have thus suggested the administration to make arrangements for temporary garbage storage system and dairy disposal,” said Radhey Shyam, a UPPCB official.

Although a drain through which the public sewage was being discharged directly into the river was blocked, but a times especially during power failures, this sewage flow increases. “We have thus suggested the provision of a generator at the pumping station near the Parmat ghat,” said Shyam.

“Instead of banning the plastic completely, it would be better to encourage people to bring their own bags at the ghats,” said Shyam.

No action despite HC directive

The Kanpur Nagar Nigam (KNN) had issued orders for banning polythenes at the ghats under the section 437 of Nagar Nigam Act (1959) on December 14 last year.

With this, seven ghats of the city were declared as polythene-free zones by the KNN. In these areas, the devotees were not be allowed to throw plastic bags directly into the holy river. Dustbins were placed on the ghats and nobody was allowed to bring ‘hawan samagri’ in plastic bags. Tobacco pouches were also prohibited on the ghats.

A division bench of Allahabad High Court, comprising Justice Ashok Bhushan and Justice Arun Tandon, last month had directed the Ganga Basin Authority and the state government to take appropriate action to ban the use of polythene in the vicinity of Ganga in the entire state.

From TOI

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