A ubiquitous J&K Bank hoarding on almost all electric poles in this city greets the visitors and residents alike : "I am listening "to all sorts of questions, complaints, suggestions. These words are printed on pictures of artisans, elderly women, young men.
This is a business promoting advertisement of the bank but Kashmiris have started listening to the calls of preservation of environmjent, too. They have said good bye to the use of polythene and the Valley is going to have country’s first environment friendly bio-plastic manufacturing unit to produce the bags, offering alternative to polythene in next six months.
Here it is a unique combination of a broad smile and one word expression “ sorry” by shopkeepers or salesmen to customers asking for carry bags of polythene.
"We have ordered carry bags from outside, when those will come, we will give you, but not polythene," says Sonaullah Bhat, a baker.
It is much more than the fear of the raid by authorities of the Municipal Corporation or pollution control board. “ It’s in our own interest, we have realized that, though belated,” says Mohammad Ramzan, a shopkeeper at Dal Gate, a spot frequented by tourists, many of whom start or end their walk along the boulevard from this point.
Tourists are welcome, but if they carry something in polythene bags, which they bring from their place of origin , they are politely told by the houseboat owners and shikarawallahs ( the boatmen of luxury boats) to keep polythene with them and not throw it into the waters of Dal lake.
The J&K Agro Industries Limited signed a memorandum of understanding with an Italian company Messrs Earthsoul August 4 for the manufacturing of 100% biodegradable and compostable products."
"This would be India’s first integrated biopolymer facility," said Agriculture minister Ghulam Hassan Mir.
It will manufacture bio-plastic from potato or corn starch. It gets decomposed in three to four months as against one million year that polythene takes to get decomposed.
At the time of the signing of the MoU, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, said that the decision to ban polythene was in the” larger interests of the state and future generations”.
The Earthsoul has been given six months time to come up with the manufacturing unit – Kashmir is already on the road to become a leader in providing alternative to polythene and preserving environment.