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Monday, Sep 16, 2019

Government turns to women to provide push to its drive against plastic

The officials said plastic recycling can also be profitable for women. In Tamil Nadu, women groups have developed a successful model for recycling and segregating plastics for their supply to construction firms for building roads.

india Updated: Sep 13, 2019 02:09 IST
The SHGs, which are involved in micro-economic activities, will be engaged in collecting plastics and desegregating them from other garbage for recycling.
The SHGs, which are involved in micro-economic activities, will be engaged in collecting plastics and desegregating them from other garbage for recycling.(HT image)
         

The Centre is banking on 65 million women associated with self-help groups (SHGs) in rural areas for the reduction in the use and recycling of single-use plastic, according to officials aware of the development.

The officials said the Union rural development ministry has already reached out to a large number of women to seek their help after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call to curb the plastic menace in his Independence Day speech. Modi called for taking steps towards ending single-use plastic usage by October 2 when India would celebrate Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary.

The SHGs, which are involved in micro-economic activities, will be engaged in collecting plastics and desegregating them from other garbage for recycling. An official said the logic for banking on women is simple as they are in charge of running households. If women take the lead in avoiding single-use plastic, it can lead to better results, the official added.

The officials said plastic recycling can also be profitable for women. In Tamil Nadu, women groups have developed a successful model for recycling and segregating plastics for their supply to construction firms for building roads.

Rural development secretary Amarjeet Sinha said they have over the last couple of years started using plastics for building rural roads. “It has been scientifically proven that 8-10% of the bitumen can be replaced with plastics [in building roads]. India has so far built around 13,000 km of rural roads using plastics. We are now going to complete 16,000 km of such green roads by the end of this financial year,” he said.

Madhya Pradesh has emerged as the best state in using plastic in building rural roads, according to government data. Out of the 16,000 km of rural roads that would be built with plastic as a component, 7,000 km will be in Madhya Pradesh followed by Rajasthan (1,690 km)

Sinha said around 15% of roads have been built in last four years through green technologies that include use of plastics, fly ashes cell filled concrete. “Now, at least 25% of our roads will be built using plastic,” said Sinha.

He added Tamil Nadu has developed an efficient system of solid waste management, which will likely to be used as one of the models in the country’s renewed war against plastic and how better waste management can also improve India’s agriculture export.

Another official insisted the clampdown on production especially of plastic sashes is very important. “But the problem in India is that many such plastic packets, especially those used for gutkha, come from small units which are not even registered with the government. In order to make our action against plastic more effective, there has to be a clampdown on such units.”

India generates around 15, 000 tonnes of plastic waste daily, of which only 9,000 tonnes is collected and recycled, according to the Union environment, forest and climate change ministry. Around 40% of the plastic used in disposable products, such as grocery bags, cutlery, and straws, ends up choking landfills, drains, rivers and getting leached into soil and water.

The drive against plastics will also be a part of the second phase of the Centre’s Swachh Bharat (clean India) campaign, where the focus shifts from building toilets to disposal of wastes and better recycling.

As the bulk of the plastic waste is generated in rural India, rural development ministry officials say contractors are bringing plastic from urban centres for recycling in rural areas as they do not produce the quantity needed to build roads.

India has pledged to eliminate single-use plastic by 2022.

“The idea to employ women SHGs to collect plastic and use it for road construction was first demonstrated by Anna University in Tamil Nadu. We picked up the idea and found it to be fabulous this is already demonstrated by Tamil Nadu, they used the technology anna university. we learnt from this.For women too, collecting and desegregating plastics doesn’t demand full-time labour and it can give financial benefits too,” said former rural development secretary Jugal Kishore Mohapatra

First Published: Sep 12, 2019 23:50 IST