Plastic bags may be banned in Delhi but the influential plastic industry lobby is not giving up yet. It is fighting its case on the airwaves now.
Using advertisements on FM radio channels, the lobby is trying to tell Delhiites that plastic bags are ‘environment-friendly’ and that people should use them to ‘save the earth’.
“Plastic bags are not enemies, they are your friends,” declares a radio advertisement run throughout the day on a Delhi FM channel.
The 20-second ‘spot’ is professionally made with multiple voices, a catchy background score, and a crisp script ending with a distinct punch-line. It is aired between top-rated programmes.
The industry-backed Plastic Bag Awareness Forum, a newly launched association of manufacturers, traders and supporters of
plastic, has made this advertisement as part of a campaign to subvert the government’s recent ban through public media.
In the commercial, the creators have presented the idea that using plastic bags is as environment friendly as planting trees, saving fuel and electricity (see box). More ads are in the offing.
“We have to take on the plastic bag ban blow by blow. The ban is based on misinformation on plastic,” said Mahendra Kohli, President of the Forum. Aired 15 times a day on the channel, the ad undermines the government’s efforts to implement the
High Court-directed ban.
When asked if this kind of a campaign could be considered contempt of court, Kohli said, “It is not contempt of court. We are just spreading awareness.”
To carry forward the pro-plastic-bag propaganda, the Forum is also using, rather audaciously, the slogan: “It pays to be environment friendly”, which is the Delhi government’s long-standing slogan to oppose plastic bags.
As per senior Delhi government officials, no written complaint has been received about the ad campaign.
But Vinod Jain, petitioner in the high court case that brought about the ban, said he was preparing a legal notice to stop the campaign. “It is constitutional to challenge a law in the court. But to go to a public medium and propagate ideas against a notified law is illegal,” he said.