Arunachal becoming a dumping zone for SUPs

[ Lobom Tamin ]

On 5 June, 2018, to mark the World Environment Day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that India would phase out single-use plastic products (SUP) by 2022.

Three years later, on 12 August, 2021, a ban on identified SUPs was notified by the union environment, forest & climate change ministry through the Plastic Waste Management Amendment Rules, 2021. This ban came into force on 1 July, 2022.

Following this decision, many state governments have also issued orders to ban SUPs, and simultaneous inspections have been conducted in the markets.

The order has been strictly implemented in several states of the Northeast. For instance, in Assam, Meghalaya and Mizoram, plastic glasses and thermocol plates have been replaced by paper plates and paper cups, which are environmental-friendly. Even small street tea shops now only use paper cups and plates.

However, it seems like our state government has taken a more lenient stance on this serious issue. Thermocol plates, made from polystyrene, which is a carcinogenic (cancer causing) substance when exposed to heat, are still openly sold in the markets. Plastic glasses of various sizes are also readily available, posing significant environmental threats.

These items, which take between 20 to 500 years to decompose, continue to be used despite the availability of multiple substitutes like paper plates, bagasse (sugarcane waste) plates, areca leaves plates,and paper cups.

Fortunately, there are no manufacturers of these harmful products in Arunachal. However, the state has become a dumping ground for such items from states like West Bengal and Assam, which export their products here due to the lack of strict monitoring and enforcement of the ban.

I hope that, on this Environment Day, the state government will take a decisive action to protect our state from the detrimental effects of SUPs. The government must ensure that the ban on SUPs is strictly enforced, thereby safeguarding our environment and the ecosystem.

Let’s keep our state safe and green forever. (The writer is West Kameng District Library & Information Officer)