October 20, 2020

HC for Bodhgaya plastic-free zone

Patna: Patna High Court on Monday asked the state government to take strong action to control pollution menace created by polythene bags in Bihar and directed the Gaya district administration to declare Bodhgaya a plastic-free zone.

Hearing a case instituted after the high court took suo motu cognisance of media reports in a vernacular daily to reveal plastic pollution in Muchalinda Jheel, a historical lake in Bodhgaya, the bench of Justice Ravi Ranjan and Justice S. Kumar also highlighted the need to make people aware about the issue to effectively curb it.

Muchalinda lake is named after a snake king who protected the Buddha from the vagaries of nature by spreading its hood over his head. The two-judge bench, which has listed the case for further hearing on August 27, said the entire drainage system in the state has collapsed because of the use of polythene bags.

“There is not a single street where vegetables and fruits are not sold in plastic bags. It is not only the state government that is responsible for the menace of pollution by polythene bags, the public should also be made aware about the harmful effects of their use,” the high court bench said.

Appearing in the case, the representatives of Gaya district administration told the court that the district administration has banned taking plastic bags to Bodhgaya, which is a hub of pilgrims from all over the world, especially Buddhists, as the place is considered the most important one in their religion because this is where Gautam received enlightenment to become the Buddha.

Hearing the assertion by the Gaya district administration, the high court bench asked it to “declare Bodhgaya as polythene-free zone”.

The Bihar State Pollution Control Board (BSPCB) is the agency mandated to make policies for curbing pollution. However, it will be interesting to watch the steps taken in the light of the Patna High Court order before the case is taken up again for hearing after a month.

Polythene bags not only clog drains, canals and small rivulets, but also scatter around as there is no proper policy for their collection and disposal. At times they are burnt in the open, generating noxious fumes that pollute the air. Cattle also swallow it along with any food leftovers inside such bags, which go undigested and harm their organs leading to death.

Maharashtra, which recently banned plastic, eased the ban after lobbying by multinational companies and industry bodies for softer rules and extensions. Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik on July 10 announced a ban on the use of plastic bags, polythene and single-use plastic in the state. The ban will be implemented in a phased manner beginning October 2.

Courtesy: The Telegraph

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