Devidas says that beside the decline on food production, his community is also facing several health problems such as asthma and renal failure. Devidas says, “Here garbage pickers collect hundreds of polythene bags in a heap and burn them. After that you can see the forest is full of thick toxic smoke everywhere. The drains are also often clogged with polythene and sewage is flowing over.”
It is not as though the government hasn’t done anything to check polythene use. In fact Goa was the first Indian state to impose a ban on use of polythene in 1998. But the enforcement of that ban has not been done seriously. As a result, it has been business as usual with manufacturers continuing to produce polythene bags, while traders continue selling them in local shops.
Devidas says that a ban is only the first step towards tackling the polythene menace and unless it is enforced, the job is not done. The members of his community are serious about protecting their forests, but they they need to be made aware of the link between the use of polythene and the gradual damage of their own forest, farms and their health. They also need to be told the types of polythene that one can use and the types that must be avoided, he says.
The elderly couple from Rajasthan had medical issues and could not look out for themselves.