The National Green Tribunal has directed the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) to regulate the use of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and other forms of plastic in flags and banners by political parties during elections after a plea alleged that it damages environment. A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar issued notice to the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) and asked it to take a view in relation to banning or regulating PVC within six months.
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“The ministry would take a view in relation to banning or regulating PVC and chlorinated plastic in the use banners, flags, hoarding etc within a period of six months. The applicant is at liberty to pursue the matter with the ministry which shall deal with the subject matter thereof expeditiously and in any case within the prescribed period under the judgement of the tribunal,” a bench said.
The tribunal was hearing a plea filed by Andhra Pradesh resident Ravikiran Singh seeking directions to the Election Commission of India to issue orders asking all political parties and people contesting elections to refrain from using PVC banners and flags and impose hefty fines on all political parties and politicians who continue to campaign by such medium. Referring to the new Plastic Waste Management Rules notified by the Environment Ministry, senior advocate Pradeep Rai and advocate Gautam Singh, appearing for the petitioner, said these hoardings were “no better if not worse” than plastic carrybags against which a notification prescribing proper disposal has been issued.
“That the notification dated March 18, 2016 leaves out the great evil of flex (PVC) banners and focuses only on the plastic necessary for packaging purpose. It is submitted that it is very difficult to substitute plastic with another packaging material. However, plastic can be easily substituted with something else for the purpose of making banners/hoardings or flags,” it said.
The petitioner contended that very huge banners made of PVC are put on public spaces depicting election slogans of political parties and once the poll is over, the election material is dumped without due care.