Say No to Plastic!

People of Rajasthan openly flout the ban on plastic.

On August 1st, 2011, Rajasthan became only the 6th state in India to declare a complete ban on plastic. The move was prompted by increasing reports of plastic waste having an adverse effect on the public hygiene and sanitation situation across the state. While studying the reasons for the sharp rise in cases of dengue and malaria, the municipalities of various areas had found their sewage systems clogged with plastic, causing the waste water to swamp and stagnate. This set the stage for a perfect year-round breeding ground for mosquitoes.

“Our towns and cities were suffering from plastic pollution,” says Shambhulal Khatik,Community Correspondent from Delwara, Udaipur district, Rajasthan,” The simple plastic bag had turned into a menace. It has lined up and dirtied the corners of our streets, blocked our water and sewage pipes and even choked and killed the lifestock who made the mistake of trying to ingest it. When the ban was introduced, I thought it was better late than never. But this has turned out to be one of those instances where the law goes one way and the public the other.”

On paper, the ban looks stringent. Offenders were liable to be punished with a fine of upto 100,000 Rupees or 5 years in prison or both. But in Shambhu’s town, life goes on as if the ban had never happened. One year after the ban, consumption of plastic continues to be as wide spread as ever. A plastic bag can be easily brought and sold over the counter. There has been no attempt by the concerned authorities or the people themselves to stop the practise. Shambhu feels it is apathy on the public’s part. “I think people are aware of the ban but they are too lazy to act accordingly,” he says,” and since there is no pressure from society or the government, they feel no desire to change their consumption habits.”

Asked about the solution, he sounds exasperated,” The solution? Just carry a cloth bag! Say no to plastic.” When asked about what he’s planning to do to save his town from the plastic menace, he’s fired up. “I have made this video so that the people in my locality can see how dirty and ugly their houses and streets have become. I believe it will open their eyes and they themselves will change their habits and practises. Also, my friends and I are organizing a rally against the use of plastic.”

“When you start being conscious of the plastic around you, you gradually realize that there are certain things that you tend to buy often but hardly use before it becomes your garbage. By consciously using plastic, you’re not losing out on anything but rather you are using just what you need.”

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