The ongoing campaign of Municipal Corporation of Dehradun (MCD) against polythene and single use plastic is being called a hoax and eye-wash by activists and scientists of the city. They state that the Uttarakhand Environment Protection and Pollution Control Board (UEPPCB), MCD and other authorities concerned are not worried about the technical aspects of the bags which are being circulated in the market as an alternative to polythene carry-bags. They also alleged that MCD’s plan to distribute about 2.5 lakh cloth bags in all 100 wards is nothing but a mere news-value propaganda.
The secretary of Society for Pollution and Environment Conservation Scientists (SPECS), Brij Mohan Sharma said, “The demand in the market for non-woven bags has risen by up to 40 per cent since the order for prohibition of polythene carry bags and single use plastic has been put at place, but these bags are not environment friendly. They are being used as an alternative to polythene bags, but not only they are non-biodegradable, these bags also are less sustainable then polythene as their carrying capacity is weak. The problem is that it appears that even the authorities concerned are unaware about this technical aspect of non-woven bags. Some actions against the increasing use of such bags should have been taken by the authorities, but no such actions were taken.”
He further said, “The non-woven bags are made of plastic and cloth, the only difference between polythene and non-woven bags is that they are mixed with 20 per cent cloth. This is eyewash propaganda, even the microns in these non woven bags are less than the required standard. These bags are more dangerous for our environment than polythene; their numbers also have expanded in the last few months.”
He added, “It is my suggestion that focus should not only be on the polythene carry bags but packing materials as well.
The majority of garbage collected in the district, the majority of plastic concentration is because of packing materials. In addition to that it is mandatory to focus on garbage segregation at source.”
Soumya Prasad of Do No Trash group said, “Non-woven bags are made of polypropylene which is different from polythene, but is more dangerous. As per Uttarakhand High Court’s orders all categories of these bags are banned. The continued use of non-woven bags is due to the administrative interpretation of court orders. It is not that the citizens do not have cloth bags in their households, it is just a matter of practice, but the problem is that none of such campaigns are continued for more than a fortnight. The question is how long MCD is willing to continue this campaign. Prohibition alone is never fully successful, but it will surely deter the use and will bring massive reduction in the use of single use plastic.”
It is pertinent to mention here that MCD with the help of different stakeholders is planning to distribute about 2.5 lakh cloth bags in all 100 wards.