Updated 7 Jul 2022, 8:28 pm
There was a time when people used to bring their own carry-bags to the market and they stuff it with whatever items they had purchased while the shops used paper-bags (Chekhao) and plain old newspapers or old exercise books to wrap the items.
It was mostly non-Manipuris or women of small means who made the Chekhao and they used to roam around the Leikais looking to purchase old books, exercise books and newspapers and they preferred English newspapers from outside the state as the newsprint was of better quality.
Sometimes, they even use the hardcover of exercise books by cutting it into small pieces to strengthen the bottom part of the Chekhao. It is not just nostalgia. But, it was the way of our world before the coming of plastic into our lives. Before bottled water came into the scene, Khujai and later on steel glasses rented out by Leikai Marups were used for drinking water during Usops and they are now lying unused in marup godowns. They are being replaced by bottled water and disposable plastic glasses.
ALSO READ: International Plastic Bag Free Day 2022: The need for real campaign
The problem started with regard to dumping of these single-use plastic wrappers, glasses, bottles, spoons and forks, molded plastic containers used in working lunches or eatables during swasti puja and marriage ceremonies. These disposable items started appearing in garbage collection without any segregation and more dangerously in our drains.
So, most of the drains in urban areas are clogged with plastic waste leading to flash floods during the rainy season while most parts of such non-degradable plastic waste flows down into our rivers and ultimately into the lakes creating a severe environmental problem.
The plastic problem is not only about our state and the country, but a major issue the world over and the oceans are littered with plastic waste. Many countries have already started reverting to biodegradable items for everyday use while India began with banning it from July 1.
Following in the footsteps of the Union government, Manipur also formulated a state plastic policy and announced a ban on single use plastic items from July 1 which was a week ago. Now the question, is it really working? Plastic items are still in view in the market and shops, in Usops and even in official functions.
ALSO READ: Manipur bans single use plastics, but industries create bottleneck
We know the state is still to come up with a practical strategy of implementing the plastic ban. The nodal implementing agency Manipur Pollution Control Board (MPCB) is still in the dark on how to implement it. The board is just starting to do what should have been done before the ban came into force on July 1 and now they say they are planning a poster campaign and advertisements in the newspapers to create awareness about the state plastic policy.
It is a clear case of the ban mentality prevalent in our state. If someone thinks something is against public interest, banning it seems to be the solution. And mind you, it is not only the CSOs or other bodies who are plagued with the ‘ban solution’ on everything one does not like.
ALSO READ: Single-use Plastic Ban: Know all about banned daily-use items and penalties for violation
The government seems to be slowly following in their footsteps. This is simply unthinkable. It is not only the case of lack of strategy for implementation of the policy, but there is also a complete absence of alternatives to the use of plastics in everyday life.
People with imagination have a tendency of coming up with solutions or alternatives and Manipur does not lack in such imaginative young persons. When such ideas come up, it could provide a support structure. But first, the state government must agree that it did not have a plan before implementing the ban.
First published:7 Jul 2022, 8:28 pm
plastic bansingle use plastic bagspolythene bagspaper bags