- The J&K High Court hands OUT a complete ban on polythene in the state
- Major cities in Jammu and Kashmir generate over 700 tonnes of waste daily
- No proper landfill exists in the cities of Srinagar or Jammu
New Delhi: With imposing mountains, lush valleys and an abundance of greenery, Jammu and Kashmir remains unparalleled in terms of natural beauty and etched on every tourist’s wishlist. High tourist influx over a prolonged time period has altered Jammu and Kashmir’s cleanliness scenario and the state’s lacklustre performance in the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan hasn’t helped. Waste generation has reached alarming proportions in Jammu and Kashmir, and the state generates more than 700 tonnes of solid waste daily, compounded by the absence of proper landfill sites and scientific disposal methods. Coming down heavily in favour of altering the present waste management scenario in the state, the Jammu and Kashmir High Court has ordered a ban on polythene on April 4.
The J&K High Court has asked the state government to take adequate measures to ensure that the ban is enforced. The move comes after waste became a major problem for the state, with reports emerging of waste mounds across prominent roads in Srinagar. The absence of landfills in major cities like Jammu and Srinagar has resulted in stray waste mounds in these two cities. Due to haphazard disposal of waste, the environmental degradation in Jammu and Kashmir reached unprecedented levels in the last decade, as a study by the University of Jammu’s Department of Environmental Science had found.
Handing the judgment to ban polythene, the High Court said that officials working for various municipal departments were responsible to ensure that the ban was effectively implemented. any failure to do so would result in adequate punishment for the officers responsible.
The ban comes at a good time for the state because the waste scenario in Jammu and Kashmir is tragically bad. For years, there has been no stringent mechanism to manage waste in the state. The big cities of Jammu and Srinagar don’t even have a proper waste management facility in their vicinity. Banning plastics will at least ensure that the daily waste generation in the state comes down while the present waste is dealt with, said a member of the NGO Environmental Policy Group, which had filed a Public Interested Litigation asking for a ban on plastic in Jammu and Kashmir.
Apart from banning plastic, the High Court has also asked for the present status of tenders being floated or already being worked upon to construct solid waste management in Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh. The High Court has also asked various state government departments of agriculture and horticulture to provide details on treatment of vegetable and agricultural waste in all the markets in the state.
“With a proper mechanism of waste management implemented, the state can finally better its waste management scenario. In the past four years, several states have implemented proper waste management mechanisms to tackle with waste and it is time Jammu and Kashmir did the same,” said Shafqat Nazir, legal counsel appearing on behalf of the NGO.
Jammu and Kashmir’s big step to enforce a strict polythene bag comes a little late as the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan enters its fourth year. Nonetheless, it is indeed a positive step to address the problem of waste in the state. Jammu and Kashmir’s goal now would be not only to enforce the plastic ban but also to see to it that the existing waste in the city is recycled/composted, failing to do which will negate the impact of plastic ban.