New Delhi: The countdown to this year’s World Environment Day on June 5 has begun and India being the global host for the 44th edition of the event is all set to lead the charge of this year’s theme – ‘Beat plastic pollution’. As a first step, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has banned plastics in all protected areas around the country, by declaring them “plastic free zones”. Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan made this announcement on Twitter and said,
The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change bans plastic in any form in all protected areas and declare them “Plastic Free Zones” ahead of #WorldEnvironmentDay2018.
He further added,
We direct states and UTs to organise awareness campaigns to sensitise people on the same. Protected areas in Bengal and Odisha are already plastic free zones.
.@moefcc bans plastic in any form in all protected areas and declare them “Plastic Free Zones” ahead of #WorldEnvironmentDay2018. Directs states & UTs to organise awareness campaigns to sensitise people. Protected areas in Bengal and Odisha are already plastic free zones. pic.twitter.com/3CO14scuVf
— Dr Harsh Vardhan (@drharshvardhan) April 27, 2018
Thanking the minister for this move, actor and Goodwill Ambassador of UN Environment, Dia Mirza said,
This is so so fantastic! Thank you so much.
— Dia Mirza (@deespeak) April 29, 2018
Elaborating more about the initiative, environment secretary C K Mishra said all protected areas and forest reserves will be plastic-free zones and it will be mandatorily enforced.
Non-recyclable plastics have been banned and we will make sure the enforcement of the ban takes place effectively. Soon, as a second step we will start providing green alternatives to plastic in such places, said C K Mishra.
In February, the announcement of India being the host country for the World Environment Day was made in the presence of Dr Harsh Vardhan and Erik Solheim, Environment Head, United Nations. Commenting on choosing India as the host for World Environment Day 2018, Erik Solheim, who was in the country for a week back then had said that India’s leadership on reducing plastic pollution, is absolutely critical. He added,
India has very high rates of recycling, and in recent years, some of the biggest citizen action movements have happened in this country- for example, the Versova beach cleanup in Mumbai. So, India has what it takes to lead the world into this change.
The government will soon come out with a plan, announcing the series of activities and events that are being planned for the World Environment Day. From pan-Indian plastic clean-up drives in public areas, national reserves and forests to simultaneous beach clean-up activities – India is hoping to lead the initiative by setting an example for other countries.