In the year 2021 Chief Minister Prem Singh Tamang during Gandhi Jayanti had made a verbal announcement that the plastic water bottles will be banned in Sikkim starting January 1, 2022. In his address he said, “there will be a ‘complete ban on retail and usage of such products’ and added that the decision was made keeping in mind the environmental concerns of the state. Sikkim being the Himalayan state is blessed with natural resources which provides fresh, good and quality drinking water and hence the decision.”
In the process, The state government on December 29 issued a notification which put ban on packaged drinking water bottles starting New year 2022.
“ In exercise of the powers under section 5 of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 (Act 29 of 1986) delegated to the State Government vide Notification No. S. O. 152 (E) DATED 10th February 1988 read with rule 4 of the Environment (Protection) Rules, 1986, the state government hereby imposes ban on use, manufacture, import and sale of plastic water bottles of capacity 2 litres and below w.e.f. 1st January 2022 in the state of Sikkim. This is in supersession of Notification No.25/Home/2016 dated 19/05/2016.” reads the notification
However, 2 months after the banning, the banned packaged plastic water bottles were yet again seen in the market in 2.1 litres labeled bottles. After that many raised Questions that despite the ban how are packaged water bottle still sold at every shops in the state? and people seemed to be confused regarding the plastic ban notification issued by the state government.
The notification which was issued on December 29 clearly mentioned that, “The state government hereby imposes ban on use, manufacture, import and sale of plastic water bottles of capacity 2 litres and below w.e.f. 1st January 2022 in the state of Sikkim.” So logically packaged drinking water bottles above 2 litres were not banned and was banning just a scam.
In addition, despite circulation of pictures of plastic bottles sold in markets the concerned state government department is yet to give out any clarification.
The state government’s vision to ban and control the usage of the plastic products started way back in 1998 when the state government banned disposable plastic bags.
Furthermore, In the year 2016 two major decisions were taken to control the usage of plastic products. One was the banning in use of packaged drinking water in government offices and governmental events. Second, banning the use of Styrofoam and thermocol disposable plates and cutlery in the entire state.
The state government took up these drastic initiatives on the grounds that disposable products which were in vogue in both rural and urban areas were environmentally hazardous, generated a huge quantity of municipal waste and were claiming a lot of space in landfills. And on plastic water bottles, the government held the view that that the rampant usage of packaged drinking water in departmental meetings and functions was adding an unnecessary burden on the dump yards.
Even after the ban of plastic cutlery, plastic disposable bags and packaged drinking water these products are openly sold in market of Sikkim. One is easily accessible to such. In some words the state government have everytime failed to implement the ban and control of plastic products.
Every morning a Municipal corporation garbage truck collects garbage from every household in urban areas and in rural areas the grabage if it’s plastic are mostly burner down and disposable ones are used as manure.
And then the garbage which are collected are dumped in the landfills and after the segregation process of the the garbage takes place. Then the plastic products are segregated and after which the local contractor loads the plastic products in the truck and transports it for recycling at Siliguri since there is no Recycle plant for plastic in the state.
Sikkim is known for its green and beautiful landscape which attracts thousands of tourists annually and if the state government and we dont take nature seriously the image we have of our state will soon vanish like smoke in the air.