Foreseeing the dangers of continued and excessive use of polythene, the High Court imposed a ban on use, sale and purchase of polythene in 2006. This was followed by an administrative action in 2008. SRO-182 issued by the state government on June 18, 2008, polythene bags are banned in the state in the light of Jammu & Kashmir Non-Biodegradable Material (Management, Handling and Disposal) Act, 2007.
Following the High Court ban, the administration seized around 1000 kilograms of polythene in 2015 alone. The banned substance is seized whenever the administration awakes but the use, sale and purchase of polythene continue. It has been observed that the vendors sell fruits in polythene bags outside the high Court gates in the city.
“The use of polythene is widespread across small and larger markets. The government has failed to provide an alternative,” a consumer Waseem Ahmed said.
These polythene bags can also be seen flowing in River Jhelum, polluting it and also float in Dal Lake, in which the state and authorities especially the department of tourism takes pride.
It has been more than seven years since the state authorities cracked down upon heavily on polythene and launched a campaign to free the state from the non-biodegradable product. However, all the efforts have gone in vain.
“The administration speaks a lot about the awareness and punishment but the fact is that they have not been able to ban polythene even after so many years,” a local of Lal Chowk Furqan said adding that the commercial hub is extremely polluted with polythene bags lying on the roads. “One should visit this locality during evening hours and see how much polythene lies waste on the road,” he added.
A few years ago, the government empowered Block Development Officers (BDO) and Panchayat officers to seize the Polythene and impose fine.
However, the BDOs have failed to exercise their powers if the reports from various areas are to be believed.
Concerned citizens have linked continued use of polythene to failure of Swach Bharat campaign in the valley. According to them, waste management is non existing in the state, it is far short to talk about the present polythene ban in the valley. While as the accumulated from so long is still active in our soil damaging the ecosystem every second,” an environmental expert said.
Despite the official directive to seize Polythene in the respective areas the use of polythene remains rampant in and around Srinagar city, right under the nose of civil administration.