A political party in Jharkhand has launched an ambitious environment protection drive that is laced with an economy impact and cultural protection.
In what could be a lesson for other political parties to follow, All Jharkhand Students Union (AJSU) Party, an ally in the ruling BJP’s Raghubar Das government in the state, has passed a stricture to all its district units to ban use of plastic and thermocol plates and glasses during party’s meetings and events and replace them with leaf plates and clay glasses.
Party chief Sudesh Mahato, who is on a whirlwind trip to all districts since January 5, holding district level meetings is personally supervising execution of the directive taken by the central committee. At the meeting in Latehar last week, he declined to eat lunch with party colleagues when he found the food being served to some of them on thermocol plates.
“Leaf plates and clay glasses are part of our culture. They are not only bio degradable, but also economically viable. Given the global scenario where plastic is playing havoc with environment and our lives, its time political parties show society the way by taking the first steps towards banning them. I am a firm believer of the adage charity begins from home,” said AJSU chief Sudesh Mahato, who has twice been deputy chief minister in Arjun Munda’s government.
AJSU has done a research through experts and has found out that if even half of the state’s 3.25 crore population starts using leaf plates and mud glasses, its business will grow to a whopping Rs. 200 crore industry.
“Imagine the number of jobs it would create and revenue it would generate giving a total boost to the rural economy,” said party’s vice-president, Deosharan Bhagat.
The party has initially decided to penalize the district units that disobey the directive on banning plastic, thermocol. Further in future, if they get reports of violation from any district, the local unit president and secretary will have to vacate their chairs.
Plastic above 50 micron is banned in Jharkhand, but across cities including Ranchi the ban is hardly followed. The three major cities, Ranchi, Jamshedpur and Dhanbad together generate around 1200 metric tons of garbage per day and at least 20 % of them are plastic.
Congress leaders were critical about the drive. “Clay glasses are no more economically viable. Each glass costs around Rs. 2-3 in the retail market. They are just not fit for large political gatherings,” said Pradesh Congress secretary, Aditya Vikram Jaiswal.
Ashwini Kumar Saxena, former chairman of state expert appraisal committee that advises government on environment issues, hailed AJSU’s initiative. “Plastic and thermocol are causing tumours in the stomach of our cattle. Worse: If they are burnt on low temperature, they produce Dioxin gas that is a cancer agent,” he said.