On World Environment Day, CM Fadnavis, Maharashtra environment minister and others featured in a viral photo, unwittingly starting a debate on plastic.
New Delhi: To talk about beating ‘plastic pollution’ while having plastic bottles right in front of you may not be the brightest idea, especially on World Environment Day. Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, state’s environment minister and others found this out the hard way Wednesday after a picture of them went viral.
What makes the situation even more ironical is the fact that the central government has issued circulars against using plastic bottles at government events. Despite its recent ban on plastic bags and all things made of plastic, the Maharashtra government used these bottles at the event.
The unwitting nature of the picture has ended up starting a debate on social media platforms.
In the wake of this, a young environmentalist has challenged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to ban plastic bottles. “The latest fitness challenge has added more youngsters to the movement of attaining complete well-being. In the same spirit, I throw you the challenge of stopping the usage of plastic bottled water in all government meetings. The same will benefit the environment and be a stepping stone for keeping the future generations of Indians healthy,” Shruti Gupta, a volunteer at Center for Accountability and Systematic Change (CASC), wrote in her letter to Modi Thursday.
The letter was also marked to President Ram Nath Kovind, union minister for drinking water and sanitation Uma Bharti and Union environment minister Harsh Vardhan.
In an official notification dated 28 April, 2016, the ministry of drinking water and sanitation had asked all government departments to avoid the usage of bottled water during government events, especially in the context of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan.
“I would like to bring to your kind notice that this ministry (ministry of water and sanitation) has stopped using bottled water during official functions. I request you that use of bottled drinking water in official meetings, seminars, conferences, seminars etc may be avoided by making alternate arrangements for safe drinking water that does not result in generation of plastic waste,” the circular, sent by water ministry to all ministries and departments, read.
After this order, the Bihar government stopped using plastic water bottles. The railway ministry also sent an official circular regarding the ban.
However, it’s still common to find plastic bottles at most government events, including the ones conducted by the Press Information Bureau (PIB), the official communication channel for the government of India and other ministries.
Bottled water has a chemical called Bisphenol A. It is an industrial chemical that has been used to make certain plastics and resins since the 1960s. The chemical is harmful for health once it enters the food chain.
Virag Gupta, chairperson, said, “It is only after the photo of government event got highlighted, we started talking about important themes like environment. The government had issued an order in 2016 to ban plastic bottles from government events but no one paid heed.”
“The government is issuing the order and its own people are violating those orders. How can law get enforced if the enforcers become violators,” he added.