The ban by the state government since 2008 on polythene carry bags under the J&K Non-Biodegradable Material (Management, Handling and Disposal) Act-2007 has hardly left any impact in Valley. Vendors, shopkeepers and business establishments are openly using polythene carry bags to supply goods to their customers.
Recently the Rural Development Department (RDD) also launched a drive against the use of polythene under its ‘polythene-free village’ campaign in the valley where the Minister for Rural Development and Panchayati Raj, Abdul Haq, formally launched the campaign from Ganderbal district by joining the employees and school children at Nagbal, Manigam, Kangan and Mamar villages of the district. They marched through the markets of Kangan to raise awareness about the ill effects of the polythene use.
He said that the ban on the use of polythene will be enforced strictly adding the Government has empowered Block Development Officers (BDO) and Panchayat officers to seize the Polythene and impose fine against violators accordingly.
As per SRO-182 issued by the government on June 18, 2008, polythene carry bags were banned in the state in the light of the J&K Non-Biodegradable Material (Management, Handling and Disposal) Act-2007. After the issuance of the order, the manufacture, trade, transportation or use of polythene carry bags have became illegal in the state.
Sources told the Kashmir Vision that the usage of polythene carry bags continue unabated in the Valley including in Ganderbal district even after the imposition of ban by state government . Shopkeepers and vendors can be seen using this non-biodegradable thing freely across the markets of Kashmir.
The use of polythene persists even around the tourist spots . Though some shopkeepers have adopted the use of paper and jute bags, most of them are still making use of polythene bags .
Sources further said the enforcement agencies have failed to act against the erring shopkeepers and vendors despite clear directions from the court to make the valley polythene free .
Sources said that the shopkeepers of busy markets like Ganderbal , Beehama, Soura , Kangan , Gund, Sonamarg and other areas can be seen openly using polythene carry bags to supply goods to their customers.
“Every shopkeeper uses polythene despite the ban. When no one is there to keep a check, they go by their will,” said Sajid Wani, a resident of Kangan. The ban was imposed on the usage of polythene in the Valley to protect the environment , he added. He further said that there would be no progress in the eradication of polythene bags unless the entry of the bags in the state is banned altogether .
Another resident of Gund and a Science graduate , Jahangeer Lone said that initially the authorities showed a lot of enthusiasm in the implementation of polythene ban. Shops were raided and fined. But that was rather short-lived. He expressed a need for the strict ban on polythene and emphasized on the role of the civil society as well as the authorities to execute the ban on polythene.
“It is not just the enforcement agencies who has to work seriously towards ban on polythene but common people have to make effort on their part too,” he said adding unless the civil society does not pledge to stop the use of polythene, no success can be achieved.
He said the rampant use of polythene has destroyed the eco-system of the valley which is considered to be heaven on the earth.
“The use of polythene has contaminated soil and water and proved fatal for animals as well,” he said adding that polythene bags have been mainly responsible for the clogging of drains in cities and towns.
Although some shopkeepers have started using the alternatives like jute and paper bags, most retailers and street hawkers continue to violate the norms.