Plastic Pollution Emergency Is An Everyday Emergency - Eastern Mirror
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Plastic Pollution Emergency is an Everyday Emergency

By EMN Updated: Jun 08, 2024 12:55 am

On the eve of the World Environment Day 2024, (WED 24) Nagaland was greeted with a scene of the massive   waste accumulation, mostly of plastics, of the Doyang river doing the rounds on social media. A lot of fanfare and other activities of tree plantation drives, waste collection, cleanliness drive, discussions and discourse on the WED 24 were organised by the Government and other institutions, etc. But do we  need  one designated day to be conscious about our environment and the damages that humans are negatively impacting on our land.   

The theme of WED 2024 is ‘Land restoration, desertification and drought resilience’, with its slogan   “Our Land, Our Future. We are #GenerationRestoration.”  Land restoration is a critical pillar of the WED 24 theme and stands at the forefront of environmental conservation efforts, aiming to reverse the adverse impacts of human activities and restore ecosystems to their former vitality. “Land” restoration includes everything on earth, be the soil, water, air, biodiversity, flora and fauna. Our biggest environment issues are air pollution, water pollution, food and water shortage, waste management, plastic pollution and bio-diversity loss.  

At this point of time, we are faced with the biggest challenges of environmental damages and its impact. We hear and talk about global warming and climate change, we feel the discomforts of extreme weather patterns, – rising temperature, uneven rainfall, frequent storms, draught like situation, etc. These conditions are impacting every aspect of life on earth, leading to landslides, floods, loss of bio diversity, scarcity of water, reduction in agricultural produces, health risks, etc. We are living in a state of “Emergency”

An emergency meeting has been called by the Chief Secretary of Nagaland, to address the waste crisis at Doyang, with all the key departments of the Government. Waste accumulation is not only confined to the Doyang  river  but in almost all the rivers,  streams, drainages of Nagaland, even the towns  villages, forest,  practically everywhere where humans tread. It’s the footprints of the uncaring humans. 99% of these accumulated waste are the non-biodegradable plastic waste be it single use plastics (SUPs) bags,   multi layered plastics, (MLPs) all food wrappers,  PP bags, pet bottles, etc. Recently  the so called plant based biodegradable bags have also flooded the market, which are not biodegradable in the natural environment only in the controlled environment of the factories. And considering the throw away culture of the people all these items of convenience  will still be  littered in our environment. Even the “no-garbage banners and signboards” prominently displayed does not seem to impact the public, as garbage is still thrown beneath these very signages.  

To what extent the “Emergency Meeting” will be able to tackle the Doyang crisis is much awaited. The Doyang situation is not an immediate outcome. It is years of accumulation from all sources. Such situations are faced in Dimapur every year during heavy rains, due to blockage of drains with plastics.  Kohima too had witnessed its  streets  being  flooded with pet bottles and plastics during heavy rainfall. Similar situation must be there in other towns too, especially since the drainage system is non-existent and plastic usage and pollution has increased. The various dumpsites in many  places are also  an issue of emergency.

Sensitisation on the   harmful effects of plastic pollution has been extensively discussed, waste management awareness and training are also be being  carried  out  regularly, number of government notifications banning certain categories of plastic items have been issued, but plastic pollution and garbage is on the rise. 

The public seems to be deaf and blind to any restrictions and are least bothered about the environment damages of their surroundings.   Perhaps it is time for the Government to re-think its policy and take punitive and strident measures, for enforcing its numerous ban notifications of many years. Measures such as :-

1.            Making the customers pay for the plastic carry bags. This has been successful in reducing the volume of plastic litters in many countries and cities.  This will also inculcate the public to carry their own bags. Such notifications can be prominently displayed in all shops 

2.            Waste segregation be made mandatory.

3.            Unsoiled SUPs and MLPs from all the municipalities’ and ULBs can be sent for co-processing to the Dalmia Cement Factory at Thangskai, Meghalaya.  This is the only plant in the North East that has the coprocessing facility.

4.            Ban the sale of the 100ml drinking water bottles, as these are being extensively used in all functions, gathering and events and are the biggest polluters.  Water dispensers are alternatives that could be used.

5.            The Government must take the lead to discontinue the use of bottled drinking water in all its offices, functions and meetings.

Our environmental legacy is a testament to the power of collective action, and it calls upon individuals, businesses, governments, and the private sector to join hands in safeguarding our planet. Now, more than ever, we must step up our efforts to combat climate change, protect biodiversity, and preserve our ecosystems. Every single one of us has a role to play in protecting our environment. We can start by making small changes in our daily lives, such as using less plastic, carrying our bags and drinking water bottles, segregating and recycling, and conserving energy. Every little bit counts!

L. H. Thangi Mannen.

By EMN Updated: Jun 08, 2024 12:55:06 am
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