Keen on complete ban on the use of plastic and polythene bags, the Punjab government has decided to study how Himachal Pradesh implemented it the best in the country.
The Punjab pollution control board (PPCB) chairman, Ravinder Singh, will lead a team of experts to Himachal Pradesh next month to see how the small state has got its buyers and shopkeepers to say no to plastic. “Himachal Pradesh won the Prime Minister's Award for Excellence in Public Administration for mass awareness about the ban in the year 2009-10,” said the PPCB chairman. “Since Punjab is also contemplating implementing the ban, study of the hill-state model will help us a lot,” he added.
The first state to impose complete ban on the use of plastic bags in 2009, Himachal Pradesh has become a model for not only Punjab but also the entire country that's keen to get rid of all the problems that plastic waste creates.
In August 2011, the Punjab government decided to implement The Punjab Plastic Bags (manufacture, usage and disposal) Control Act more seriously, prohibiting the manufacture, disposal and usage of virgin-plastic bags of thickness not less than 30 microns, size not less than 8x12 inches, and colours other than specified. The use of plastic carry bags, however, is open and rampant, and now a source of big problem for urban local bodies that are getting their sewers choked with this non-biodegradable waste.
The animal husbandry department had warned of stray cattle dying of consuming waste polythene, less than 30-micron thick, from the dumping pits. Scientists observed polythene also destroying the fertility of soil. “Himachal (Pradesh) has implemented the ban without any uproar from consumers and manufactures,” said Babu Ram, member secretary of the PPCB. “It will be interesting to study how it made it a people's movement.”
The collection, recycling and end-use of waste polythene in road construction is going a long way in saving the environment of the hill state. The Himachal Pradesh government mobilised citizens, tourists and traders to switch to shopping bags made of jute, paper and cotton. A series of public campaigns made it work.