Almost 15 years after blazing a trail in the country by prohibiting usage of polythene bags, Himachal Pradesh on Tuesday announced a ban on the use of thermocol plates and glasses in the state as they were a major cause of pollution. The government also banned plastic water bottles less than one-litre capacity at official functions.
Making the announcement at a function to mark the World Environment Day at Sundernagar town in Mandi district,
Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur said the government had realised the severity of plastic bag usage in daily life and the way it contributed to polluting the environment. He further said the current water crisis in the state had its roots in the usage of plastic and its indiscriminate dumping in rivers.
“The government has decided to ban thermocol plates and glasses. Even plastic water bottles less than one-litre capacity will be banned in public meetings. There is a proposal to set up ten solid waste management plants for scientific disposal of waste. A polythene shredder machine will also installed in Sundernagar and Ghumarwin town,” Thakur said.
The CM said a steel bottle would be provided to each student in all government schools in the state to discourage the use of plastic bottles. “The initiative will be funded under Mukhiya Mantri Vardi Yojana — free school uniform scheme,” Thakur said. The CM also asked parents buy steel bottles for their school-going children.
The CM also touched upon the severe water shortage that has gripped Shimla and said pollution-reducing plants would be developed in state nurseries and provided to the people for plantation. “The water crisis in Shimla is due to pollution and degradation of water catchment areas, rivers and water bodies supplying water to the town. The government has also asked the Industries Department to prepare a project for setting up a unit for disposal of pine needles, which is mainly responsible for forest fires,” Thakur said.
Earlier in the day, Thakur launched Pollution Abating Plants Abhiyan (PAPA) and laid the foundation stone of a guest house and a mechanical engineering block building in Sundernagar’s Polytechnic Institute that would be constructed at a cost of Rs. 1.50 crore and Rs 5.58 crore respectively.
In 2003, Himachal Pradesh had become the first state in the country to ban the use of polythene bags. The CM also asked tourists visiting the state to use jute or paper bags instead of polythene bags. The BJP leader said special thrust would be laid on the plantation of trees from June 5 to July 1 in Baddi, Nalagarh, Parwanoo, Kala Amb, Poanta Sahib, Sundernagar, Damtal and Una as these were the most polluted cities of the state.
The government, during the past five years, had not strictly enforced the ban on polythene and faced a lot of flak from the environmental groups, who had launched a mass “Say no to plastic” drive.