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A Sorry Two Years

india Updated: Feb 11, 2013 00:56 IST
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Last week marked two years since the Government of India brought out the rules related to how plastic bags and multi-layered packaging-the kind chips come in- should be disposed off, and by whom.

These were the Plastic Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 2011, a result of massive public campaigns. But you think of it- what's changed?

In some cities, they'll charge you for a bag. That's the best. To me, the part that is shameful is that the producers-the giants who make the stuff-who are also responsible for investing in systems under these rules-have done precious little.

The shameful part is not that they have done little but that they have not put the innovation they show in their business to the environment. That's why the status of the packaging waste everywhere is nearly unchanged.

The rules, most simplistically put, required them to invest money, ensure the waste was collected and send it to a safe place to recycle.

Two years on, you can still see such trash in pristine seas and urban drains-as if the rules were never made. Worse, policy makers will avoid regulating other kinds of plastics unless there is some progress on already regulated ones.

By now, we should have been reducing nylon fishing nets strangling turtles and highly toxic plastics whose additives poison our children. But instead, we are simply stuck. The Ministry for Forests and Environment must press the accelerator on the rules, and reign in everyone obligated to follow them.

Last week's extraordinary news, as far as birds go, was about the Whooper Swans, at Himachal's Pong Dam. They were seen in India after 113 years.