The ban that was…
Polythene is a blessing if used carefully but once handled carelessly it turns into an enormous environmental menace as well as a health hazard which will remain shooting its ill-effects for pretty long time. Governments all-over the world have devised laws and regulations to control the use and even reuse of polythene. Developed countries have developed and are using technology to reduce its ill-effects. But in a state like Jammu and Kashmir, where there is neither the technology nor the political and administrative will for the purpose, the pollution caused by littering of polythene is becoming into a huge environmental disaster. Everywhere heaps and mounds of garbage, with bulk being of polythene waste, is a common sight. Government’s ban on the use of polythene has remained limited to announcements only and it has never gone beyond that. Tons of polythene bags are sold in the markets in every nook and corner of the state except in Ladakh and government and its agencies are just mute witnesses to all this.
The large-scale use of this inorganic matter has had its ill-effects on water and soil with a large chunk of cultivable land turned into unproductive barren expanses. Rice fields and orchards are experiencing the obnoxious effects of polythene in the rural areas as most of the fungicides, pesticides and insecticides are packed in bags made of this monstrous material which is left unattended there and with the passage of time it seeps beneath the productive layer of the earth and starts oozing its foul effects. What pains all is the insensitivity of the government which knows about it but is playing a negative role in curbing its use or misuse. And when a government is apathetic towards a sensitive matter like this, people have to take in the responsibility in their own hands.
It’s time that people start realizing the problems that polythene is creating and is going to create for them. They have to say good-bye to the use of polythene by boycotting it. Otherwise it will leave them in ruins. The gravity of the problem can be gauged by the fact that even in small towns in the countryside, say Budgam town for instance, two tons of polythene bags are sold everyday. Now one can only imagine how much of this toxic substance is thus being pumped into Kashmir’s hill and dale, water-bodies as well as into the domestic cattles’ bodies too. And given the fact that polythene is non-biodegradable matter, one should not be hard at calculating how much pollution it might be causing here in this Valley. If the consumption remains the same for a few more years what will be the environmental scenario?
People of Ladakh certainly have made a good beginning in this regard. Having realized the hazards of polythene to the environment, they have stooped its use for good. Though compared to the cities of Jammu and Srinagar, or for that matter other big towns in the state, Ladakh lags far behind in education, but when it comes to shouldering the social responsibility, people of Ladakh are the true leaders. They took an initiative some years back to drag out the menace of polythene from the cold deserts of the mountainous region. Hats off to the people of Ladakh who not only knew the disastrous effects of polythene but refused to use it by boycotting its purchase to ensure that the environment around them is not polluted so much so that they will have to seek for alternatives not only to their fields but to their places of habitation as well. If the same is repeated in whole of the state, the stinking mounds of polythene will no longer be there as a slur on our collective behaviour.