New data from the J&K Pollution Control Board has revealed a startling reality – the region generates a staggering 51,000 tonnes of plastic waste each year, which then is littered around the place. Kashmir alone contributes 31,000 tonnes to this overwhelming total, with the Jammu division accounting for an additional 20,000 tonnes.
A prevailing ‘throw-away culture’ has seen plastic bags clog city drainage systems, leading to drain blockages that exacerbate flooding during rains. The plastic litter also infiltrates the landscape, choking water bodies that are already burdened with pollution from multiple sources. The situation worsens when ready-to-eat food items are carried in bags that leach out the chemicals, inadvertently exposing consumers to potential hazards.
The J&K government has made strides in tackling this menace. The ban on polythene usage within the region is a commendable step toward curbing plastic waste. However, more needs to be done to enforce this ban effectively and promote public cooperation. While regulations and policies are integral, a collective commitment to reduce plastic consumption and encourage responsible waste management is paramount.
Public awareness campaigns can play a huge role in changing mindsets and behaviors. Education about the dangers of plastic pollution, along with advocating for the use of sustainable alternatives, can foster a sense of environmental responsibility among citizens. This collective effort will contribute to the preservation of the Valley’s natural beauty for generations to come.
Now the situation is such that polythene is everywhere. There’s hardly any shop in the Valley where you can’t get polythene carry bags. Though polythene pollution is a worldwide phenomenon, in Kashmir the penetration seems to be even deeper. Supermarket bags, nylons and other plastics litter roads, croplands and water bodies. The impact has been highly damaging. The humble plastic bag and plastic drink container play a far greater role in changing the planet than has been realized.
Though several times bans have been imposed on the use of plastic bags in J&K over the last two decades, not much has changed on the ground. The reason is that the bans were never seriously implemented. Here’s hoping that the current government finally gets the act right and ensures not only that the use of plastic is strictly banned but that the use of environmentally friendly products is aggressively promoted. There is an urgent need to end this criminal negligence towards our environment. More so in Kashmir, the paradise on earth, whose natural beauty draws lakhs of tourists every year.
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