Plastics abound despite

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Though plastic bags of less than 40-micron thic­kness are banned and awareness programmes are on across the city, the sale of plastic carry bags is visible in almost all commercial hubs of Chennai.

Even as the Public He­alth Department has raid­ed more than three dozen shops in the past three months and seized more than 2,000 tonnes of non-degradable plastic items, the ecosystem is choking, said confidential sources with the State Envir­onment Depa­r­tment.

“We have been pleading with local bodies including the Corpo­ration to ban plastics. The failure in implementing the ban has affected the flow of water in canals and the marshlands and pristine swamps in Chennai like Adyar estuary and Palli­karnai have turned dump yards with tonnes of plastic, an official said.

“We see plastic littered across the city. Cheap plastic bags thrive even in certain eco-conscious hill stations like Kodai­kanal, Yelagiri and Val­parai”. Except at core jungle areas coming under Project Tiger, the government has failed to implement the plastic ban,” said Mr K.V.R.K. Thirunaranan, founder, The Nature Trust.

“Three years back, the city corporation banned plastic along the Marina and it is not implemented till date,” says former Opposition floor leader Saidai P. Ravi.

However, a corporation official denied that the department was silent over the issue. For the past six months periodic drives in Parrys and Flower bazaar were conducted and tonnes of plastic were confiscated. These plastic items are shredded and used for relaying roads.

The use of plastic bags has certainly dwindled and such drives will continue as per the Union Environment Ministry’s notification under Environment Protection Act, 1980.

Ban in Ooty exists only in letter, not spirit

Nilgiris was declared a plastic free district way back in 2002 thanks to the efforts taken by then collector Ms Supriya Sahu.

Unfortunately over the years the anti-plastic campaign has lost momentum and now plastic cups and wrappers are seen everywhere in the hills, even along the jungle roads.

Though the district administration has opened a plastic collection kiosk near Burliar at the district border to collect all plastic from travellers before they journey uphill along the Ooty-Coimbatore NH, it has failed to have a desirable effect.

Criticising the officials for not acting tough to control the clandestine entry of plastics in the hills, Mr B.K. Kumaran, president of the Nilgiris Ecology and Animals Protection Samithi said that quite a few shop keepers were using plastics such as carry bags and were also selling plastic cups and plates. Moreover, plastics being carried into the hills by the tourists were also adding to the problem.

“Ban on plastics was introduced in 2002 in Nilgiris to save the hills from carry bags, plastic cups etc. that are a hazard to the animals and soil as it plays havoc with the sub-soil water percolation and also chokes the streams.

The government should realise the hazards posed by these plastic items on the environment and should ask the district administration to take effective steps,” he said.

Expert team on a pan-TN trip

A 12-member team from the Arumbugal Trust started its journey on Tuesday from Santho­me, Chennai to create awareness regarding the ill-effects of plastics across 13 coastal districts of Tamil Nadu.
Environment Minister M.C. Sampath flagged off the awareness rally in the city.

Supported by the Department of Envir­onment and organised by the Nehru Yuva Kendra, the team will end its journey on December 7 in Kanyakumari.

“We’ve planned over 100 programmes including folk songs, dances and street theatre so that our target group, the fisher folk, understand the effects of the non-biodegradable material that pollute our environment.

Our team consists of social workers who will sing and stage plays on environmental awar­eness at schools, colleges and bus depots,” said Ms V. Latha Mathivanan, director of Arumbugal.

Ms Latha said that all stakeholders had to understand the current status of coastal and marine biodiversity and the plethora of problems they were facing.

The team will cover Thiruvallur, Kan­chee­puram, Villupuram, Nag­a­­p­­­at­ti­nam, Pud­ukott­ai, Thanjavur and Thoot­hukudi among other districts.

“India’s high density forests constitute less than 5 per cent and there are five critically endangered animals. We need to reclaim the coastline to help marine animals,” added Ms Latha.

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