New Delhi: 2017 witnessed a surge in festivities being given a Swachh twist. From Rakshabandhan, Eid, Karva Chauth, Onam, Diwali to Christmas, the government agencies at state and local levels took advantage of almost every festival to promote Swachh Bharat Abhiyan objectives like cleanliness, open defecation free, sanitation and waste management. A few days into 2018 and the government is planning to use the first big occasion, Republic Day to spread a significant message of, ‘Say no to plastics’. The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) recently issued an advisory urging people to refrain from using plastic flags. Keeping in mind that plastic is one of the major polluter as it takes more than 500 years to decompose itself, the advisory said,
Since, the plastic flags are not biodegradable like paper flags, these do not get decomposed for a long time and ensuring appropriate disposal of national flag made of plastic commensurate with dignity of the flag, is a practical problem.
The advisory further said, “There is universal affection and respect for and loyalty to the national flag. Yet, a perceptible lack of awareness is often noticed amongst the people as well as organisations and agencies of the government with regard to laws, practices and conventions that apply to ‘display of the national flag’, the advisory said.
The Ministry added that wide publicity for not using the plastic flags should be made along with advertisement in the electronic and print media. And post the Republic day, the flags must not be discarded in open or littered anywhere. “Such flags are to be disposed of in private, consistent with the dignity of the flag,” the advisory read.
As per the advisory, it is the responsibility of state governments, Union Territories, administrations, secretaries of all ministries/departments of government of India to ensure that no one violates the provisions contained in the ‘Flag Code of India, 2002’ and ‘The Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971. The MHA said that the national flag represents the hopes and aspirations of Indians and hence should be honored and respected.
Besides, the two national days on January 26 and August 15, the government was notified that in most of the important government-organised events flags made of plastic material are widely used instead of the paper ones. Hence the Ministry issued an additional advisory which said that on important national, cultural and sports events, flags made of paper only are to be used by public in terms of the provisions of the ‘Flag Code of India, 2002’ and such paper flags are not to be discarded or thrown on the ground after the event.