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National Marine Litter Policy: Government Begins Work On An Action Plan To Check Plastic Waste Flowing Into Oceans

To stop plastic waste from entering the ocean, the Union Ministry of Earth Sciences will assess the extent and source of marine litter along India’s coastline

  • India pumps 6 lakh tonnes of plastic waste into ocean annually
  • Ministry of Earth Sciences will gauge marine litter and its sources
  • India will make an action plan to stop the flow of plastic into the ocean

New Delhi: To take on the marine pollution across India’s 7,500 km coastline, the Union Ministry of Earth Sciences will begin work on a comprehensive study to identify the source of litter, especially the plastic waste that flows into India’s coastal waters. The exercise is the first step towards framing a National Marine Litter Policy with the objective to clean up the oceans, which is in line with UN Environment’s global ‘Clean Seas Campaign’ that India joined on World Environment Day 2018. According to a study published in the journal Science on February 13, 2015, it is estimated that India dumps 600,000 tonnes of plastic waste into the oceans, annually.

Also Read: As The Crisis Of Marine Litter Keeps Rising, G20 Countries Come Together To Announce New Action Plan

Talking about this initiative, Madhavan Rajeevan, Secretary, Ministry of Earth Sciences, said:

Marine litter has emerged as one of the most serious threats to the health of oceans. We have joined United Nations’ Clean Seas programme and we will be starting this new activity to gauge marine litter. The Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services and a Chennai-based institute would work on this.

As part of this exercise, the experts from the Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services will work to gauge the pollution in the coastal regions and to find it sources so we can prevent the plastic waste entering into the oceans at the first place. “This will be done in collaboration with the state government,” Mr Rajeevan added.

Also Read: A Photo Feature On The Impact Of Plastic Pollution On Life On The Planet

According to the officials of the Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services, the researchers will develop a database on the origin, pathways and trends of marine debris across the country’s coastline.

This exercise will help identify the source of litter, especially the plastic waste, quantify and classify the pollution type and draw up a map on waste circulation in India’s coastal waters. To draw up an effective marine litter policy, it is highly important that we identify the different sources and types of marine pollution, the official added.

Also Read: UN Environment Launches An Attack On Marine Litter

Talking to NDTV about the UN’s Clean Seas movement (launched in 2017) and its impact on increasing the global awareness of the marine litter issue, Klaas de Vos, Deputy Director, World Ocean Initiative, which fosters a global conversation on the greatest challenges facing the seas, said:

Clean Seas has had an enormous impact worldwide on raising awareness and building a coordinated response to plastic waste, especially in addressing the root causes of the issue around production and consumption of single-use plastics.

When asked about why the governments across the globe should focus more on preventing the plastic from entering the oceans, Klaas de Vos, Deputy Director, World Ocean Initiative, said:

One of the biggest challenges related to marine plastic pollution is that once the plastic waste enters into the ocean, there is very little we can do to collect it at a meaningful scale, particularly on the ocean floor several kilometres deep. This is in part due to the vast scale of the ocean, and in part because the plastic particles themselves break down once in the ocean, and become much smaller. This is one of the main reasons why a lot of focus should be given to prevent plastic from entering the ocean in the first place.

Also Read: Tackling Marine Pollution Gets A Boost As India’s Automated Ocean Pollution Observation System Is All Set To Sail By April 2018

While Craig McLean, Acting Chief Scientist of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), USA, which works along with the Ministry of Earth Sciences, stated that plastic pollution is an important problem across the world. “We have many countries, governments and the private sector offering commitments on how to protect the future of mankind and the oceans. It gives a great deal of optimism with such kind of change. It is about how we can optimise and reuse plastic,” McLean said.

According to official data, about 15,000 tonnes of plastic waste is generated every year in India and of this, only 60 percent is recycled and the rest lands up in landfills or in drains. The initiative of Ministry of Earth Sciences to gauge marine litter and their sources along the country’s coastline will help nip the problem in the bud.

Also Read: Ganga World Number 2 Among Rivers That Dump Most Amount Of Plastic Into Sea: Study

With inputs from PTI

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