World Environment Day: Plastic returns, nature hits back
Dimapur, June 4 (EMN): On this day in 2018, Nagaland commemorated World Environment Day by announcing to become a plastic-free state, rising to the grave environmental challenge posed by non-degradable waste; and single-use plastic was subsequently banned the following year but the campaign has failed to sustain after being disrupted by the ongoing pandemic.
“The banning of plastics through the executive action of the state government was a welcome step but the success is yet to see the light till today,” said Sangti Wanmai Konyak, a conservationist and social activist.
‘Plastic continues to reign supreme in our daily life, particularly while going for shopping, and also the call for plastic ban is more concentrated on polythene bags which we use for carrying goods from the markets,’ he opined, adding that “other plastics like mineral water bottle and packages of cereal, pulses, junk foods etc. are sidelined as if they are non-plastic”.
He laments that a perfect substitute to plastics, both for carrying goods as well as packaging foodstuff, is still not found.
‘We need to create awareness about the ill-health impact of plastic use and encourage people to stop buying the banned items from the shop. Encourage the citizens to use local made reusable or biodegradable cup, plate, etc. and advice them to carry their own bag while going for shopping,’ he suggested.
An officer, who wished not to be named, also suggested the need for cheap and easily available alternatives to eradicate single-use plastics in the state. He added that state government should encourage and finance start-up green business firms besides strictly enforcing the ban.
He further shared that human beings should realise the importance of their lifestyle and its adverse effects on the environment. “And all that we are trying to correct is for our own benefit and survival. The environmental degradation via plastic wastes is today one of the biggest scourges on Mother Earth,” he said.
“We must give serious thoughts on it and start acting and doing whatever we can, as soon as we can, and learn to adapt to a life sans plastic. SAY NO TO PLASTIC!” he added.
Imliben Lemtur, proprietor of paper bag manufacturing unit Monalisa Business Solution, opined that there is lack of sustained commitment towards the ban from the government and monitoring the implementation at the community level.
The government in collaboration with various stakeholders should follow the rules of single-use plastic ban, she said.
‘The occasional checks by the administration and imposition of fine on shopkeepers will not be effective; constant monitoring is required in order to sustain it, and it is the duty of the government to do so,’ she asserted.
She shared that enforcement of the ban was also disrupted by transfer of officials who initiated it. Government should find out partners who can help them to implement and monitor, she added.
Lemtur is of the opinion that monitoring should be done at two levels- source and outlets. She added that people too should have sense of responsibility by “refusing to take or ask for single-use plastics”.
Paper bag business affected by pandemic
Lemtur shared that, in the broader perspective, the paper bag business is just one of the business being affected by the present pandemic due to disruption in supply chain and human resources.
‘As we are a start-up, we have liabilities. We are affected by the lockdown because we need to pay EMI, staff salary, rent etc. Not only my business, but there are so many start-up entrepreneurs who have recently ventured into business with loan taken from various financial institutions but are unable to function smoothly due to the pandemic,’ she stated. ‘The government should consider giving packages for struggling entrepreneur in order to sustain their business,’ she added.
Nature has hit back
Sangti Wanmai Konyak said that ‘conservation of nature is vital for our state to maintain undiluted and sustainable living condition both for now and in future’. He said that the unstable geographical feature of Nagaland makes it very vulnerable to several natural calamities like landslides and floods, chiefly due to deforestation and unsustainable urbanisation.
The conservationist shared that ‘disruption in environment, mainly due to anthropogenic activities has threatened our survival in a multidimensional way in the form of rising cases of morbidity and lowering life expectancy; huge economic toll due to devastation of lives, property and other physical infrastructure’.
He said that over-exploitation of natural resources is causing shortage of many human’s needs. He added that nature is hitting back, citing the ongoing global pandemic, a zoonotic disease, which has wreaked havoc across the world.
‘If we continue to neglect to conserve our environment and destroy the wildlife habitats, we are risking ourselves for another pandemic outbreak in future,’ he said.