After failing to judge the permissible thickness of polythene bags under SRO 45, State Pollution Control Board (SPCB) is all set to procure devices to scientifically ascertain the thickness of polythene bags in each district of Jammu and Kashmir, even as environmental ramifications due to the menace remain a concern for eco-fragile region.
As per SRO 45, polythene bags below 50 microns are banned, while polythene bags above 50 microns are allowed for use in J&K. Besides, polythene bags should also mention mandatory name of manufacturer and licence number on them.
However, in absence of proper mechanism to ascertain the thickness of polythene bags, SPCB has decided to procure Electronic Micro Meter for each district of the eco fragile Himalayan region.
An extensive inspection carried out of the markets across Kashmir revealed that shoppers were using polythene bags that did not carry the name of manufacturer and license number on them.
Confirming the development, Director SPCB Syed Nadeem Hussain told that department is procuring fresh consignment of Electronic Micro Meter for each district to ascertain the thickness of polythene bags.
To a question as to why department was not seizing “illegal” polythene bags currently flooding Kashmir markets, Hussain said: “There is staff shortage. We have staff strength of 400. We are working at staff strength of below 50 percent…. In Srinagar we have one district officer, one field officer and two other people… they have to see a huge area”.
Hussain claimed department has been able to seize 2000 kilograms of polythene from December last year up to this month, besides 12 ton consignment of “illegal” polythene.
Besides, massive influx of illegal import of polythene into J&K from state like Uttar Pradesh and Punjab remains unplugged with many government officials from Excise and SPCB alleging that there is a large nexus of influential people involved in the trade.
“Many a time we have found polythene bags hidden under the merchandise. It becomes extremely difficult to check every truck coming into Kashmir,” said an official of Excise Department posted at Lower Munda toll post.
Earlier, this year High Court had directed the government to ban polythene across all tourist destinations in Jammu and Kashmir, while directing SPCB to implement the Sadr-e-Riyasat ordinance (SRO) No. 45, through which the ban was imposed.Besides, environmentalists had also raised a concern after government had allowed use of polythene bags above 50 micron thickness allegedly to benefit a particular lobby of influential people involved in polythene trade.