A huge billboard in Delhi caught my eye while staying in Defence Colony – inner city, pukka – in 2003. No, not a doe-eyed Bollywood actress but an illustrated sign stating ‘say no to plastic bags in Delhi.’
While visiting voluntary organisations thanks to support from the then CEGS administered by Dept of Internal Affairs I met with environmental enthusiasts who talked about the immense task of diminishing rubbish in the city – which in the main meant getting rid of plastic bags. Daunting, seemingly impossible but there was hope in the group’s determination.
So it was a mark of victory and credit to the power of voluntary effort, to read in the weekend’s DomPost that officials in Delhi, a city of 16 million, have recently decided that the only way to stem ‘the rising tide of rubbish’ is to outlaw the plastic shopping bag. Admittedly the threat that breaking this law could result in five years in jail, is a bit draconian; and will obviously be a monitoring and surveillance nightmare but the only way possibly to change a huge population’s lackadaisical attitude to the desperate damage done by plastic bags. Drains blocked by plastic bags provide a breeding ground for mosquitores and exacerbate flooding during the monsoon.
The move is ‘just a start’ but in the words of Sanjiv Goyal of Greenpeace ‘it shows what can be done with enough political will and commitment.’
Pauline H –