P.C. Punnen
P.C. Punnen
In My View

Kerala Finally Decides to Ban Plastic


P.C. Punnen

P.C. Punnen

Kerala is overpopulated, say some peòple. Kerala has shown how the population issue can be handled, say some people. They seem to be correct. But strictly speaking, Keralites have not yet thought of how they could dispose of their waste.The government has announced that it will ban the use of plastic from New Year’s Day. It should be welcomed. It is time they thought of that, else the land which was called God's own land will soon turn into a waste dump.

The way we conduct ourselves, the way we criticize our politicians and bureaucrats all leave a ĺot to be desired. Take for example the issue of waste management. How we Keralites rich or poor, highly educated or poorly educated are all daily wasting precious money on religious issues or booze. We are seeking political or bureaucratic help in various matters, whether it be to save us from traffic violations or to settle the issue of saving them or their friends from other serious matters. It reveals a lot. It proves that we are no different from the politicians, we are all the same.

The management of waste disposal is an issue we overlook, deliberately or not, one cannot say for sure. For example, many hospitals do not have medical waste management facilities. Perhaps this is an issue which our leaders should dwell on instead of wasting our time and money. That will do a lot of good for the state.

Over 9500 kg of waste was collected from five beaches in Kerala, in just two hours in a Cĺeanup action drive. It was organized by the National Centre for Coastal Research, according to a recent report. Fifty five thousand kilos was collected from Kozhikode district in 12 weeks. Full marks are due to those who participated in that drive, those who organized it and also the newspaper that highlighted that event.

The report shows what Kerala is facing a serious problem which we don't seem to have realized. Imagine the horror that we are unaware of, imagine the havoc that we are bequeathing to our youth, imagine what we are in for!

In this context one must thank the government for its plan to bar the use of plastic. It should have been done years ago, all the same better late than never. Our neighbouring states are way ahead of us in this field.

Half of the litter collected from our beaches was plastic, mostly dropped by those who spent their evenings or early mornings at the beach enjoying themselves. They seem to have forgotten the consequences of their careless deeds by littering the beach can have. Or is it sheer indifference? Plastic waste like cups and bottles should have been put in the dustbins. The general public here is not used to obeying directions as there is little fear of penalty. About 1, 057 tonnes of plastic was collected in the two hours they spent in their clean-up action. Imagine what would have been the figure if they had spent one full day doing this, a thankless job. Viewed in this line, the government must do more to bring in stringent measures to punish offenders. If people follow laws when abroad, why not in their own country too? It is all about sensitizing the public about their responsibilities and duties.

In Kerala which is highly educated such things shouldn't happen, but unfortunately they do. The CWRDM has decided to give a recommendation to the Union Ministry of Environment and Forest to put the dangers of plastic pollution in the school curriculum, said a top officer of the CWRDM.

What the Kerala government can do, assisted by various NGOs, is to highlight the danger that plastic poses to the people irrespective of their caste, creed and age. The Kerala government has completed almost four years in power with a massive majority. This move of banning the use of plastic it could have announced long ago. It would have earned the government the people's support without any doubt.

The government chose, as ill-luck would have it, to concentrate on matters other than the ban on plastics and waste management . For example its stand on Sabarimala issue and the fight between the two factions of Christians took up much of the government’s time. It chose two different approaches on these issues. Kerala's masses are not nincompoops. Worse, the CPM itself has proved it has no firm stand on the Sabarimala issue. Pinarayi says something while Kodiyeri and two ministers say quite a different thing, strange.

Waste management is crucial. They are an environmental threat and breeding grounds for disease. The unsightly dumps seen at the road sides do not reflect well on the administration. The earlier the disposal is done the better. In any case the government's move in view of the ecological impact and health hazards posed by plastic waste is a welcome step but more needs to be done, a lot more and soon.