India’s biggest challenge in tackling plastic pollution is the lack of technical and financial resources, and low levels of awareness, environment minister Harsh Vardhan tells Malavika Vyawahare. Edited excerpts: How grave is the problem of plastic pollution in India? What is the impact?The unattended plastic cause many problems. They are littered around and give un-aesthetic look. The plastic bags, if not collected systematically may find their way into the drainage system creating unhygienic environment and choking of drains and nalas causing water borne diseases. Recycled plastic bags and containers used for dispensing foodstuffs may contaminate food items. Plastic waste finding way to water bodies, rivers, oceans, etc. may result in to death of aquatic life. Because of the non-biodegradable and impervious nature of plastics, if disposed in the soil, they could arrest the recharging of ground water aquifers and cause ground water pollution.How has India fared on implementing the plastic waste management rules, 2016?The government has notified Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016. As per the rules, the generators of waste have been mandated to take steps to minimise generation of plastic waste, ensure segregated storage of waste at source and handover segregated waste to local bodies or agencies authorised by the local bodies. Further to promote the use of biodegradable plastic, the provision of minimum thickness of fifty microns has been made inapplicable to carry bags made up of compostable plastic.What are main challenges in implementing the rules?The constraints being faced in proper implementation of these rules include lack of adequate financial resources and trained technical manpower with many municipal authorities to implement the various provisions under the rules. Enforcement of manufacturing and use of specified thickness of plastic carry bags. Other problems are lack of awareness, manufacturing of plastic carry bags by industries located in non-conforming areas, no or Inadequate mechanisms for collection, segregation, transportation and disposal of plastic waste.Though some states have plastic bans in place, implementation seems poor, what needs to change?There should be adequate financial resources available with the states and trained technical manpower. Monitoring and enforcement mechanism need to be in place. There should be campaigning for awareness among citizens and implementing agencies. Adequate mechanisms for collection, segregation, transportation and disposal of plastic waste should be installed.