It is a bird! It’s a plane! No, it is a plastic bag soaring through the skies of Uttar Pradesh! Yes, you heard that right, despite the ban on polythene in the state, plastic bags have made a triumphant comeback, and they seem to be here to stay.
The situation is no laughing matter, but sometimes you have to laugh to keep from crying. So let’s start with a joke: Why did the plastic bag cross the road? To get to the landfill on the other side! All jokes aside, the reality is that plastic pollution is a serious problem, and the ban on polythene in Uttar Pradesh was put in place to address it. But why has it failed so miserably?
The word BAN has proved to be a money fleecing exercise for the officials of Nagar Nigam and local police. On the name of raids, these officials threaten to fine the shopkeepers and once money exchange hands they go back smiling.
“Government’s intention is not clean. If it really wants to ban polythene bags, it should close the factories where these bags are manufactured. If a trader will not get these bags, he will not use them. Instead of acting against the production houses, the law enforcement agencies harass small traders, roadside hawkers, and vegetable sellers,” one of the shopkeepers in Bhootnath Market said.
Another shopkeeper quips: “The ban on polythene is a joke. It’s like trying to ban mosquitoes in the summer. It’s impossible!” He then proceeded to hand me my purchase in a plastic bag.
One of my friends Sen Da joked, “Polythene bags are like the undead. You can ban them, but they just keep coming back.” Another friend Manoj Bhadra quipped, “I think the government needs to send plastic bags to space, so they can pollute another planet instead of ours.”
In all seriousness, the failure of the ban is a real concern. Plastic bags pose a serious threat to our environment, and it is important that we take action to reduce their use. The lack of enforcement and political will has been a major factor in the failure of the ban. As one expert noted, “The ban is just a piece of paper without effective implementation.”
Despite the seriousness of the issue, there is a humorous side to the situation. As one resident put it, “The ban on polythene has become like a Bollywood movie. It’s all about the drama and the song and dance. But in the end, nothing changes.” It seems that the government’s efforts to curb plastic pollution have been all show and no substance.
The ban on polythene in Uttar Pradesh has been a failure, but all hope is not lost. We need to take a multifaceted approach to address this problem. We need to educate people about the dangers of plastic pollution and provide them with alternatives. We need to create a culture of environmental consciousness, where people understand that their actions have consequences. And we need to hold politicians and officials accountable for their inaction and complicity.
Unless there is a concerted effort to raise awareness about the harmful effects of polythene bags and to provide the necessary resources and infrastructure to enforce the ban, polythene pollution in Uttar Pradesh is unlikely to be brought under control anytime soon. As the famous Indian saying goes, “Thoda adjust karlo,” which loosely translates to “just adjust a little.” It seems that in the case of the ban on polythene, we will have to adjust a lot!