Sikkim to impose ban on packaged drinking water 

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“The state government will soon impose complete ban on packaged plastic water bottles and soon people will not see the selling and use of packaged drinking water bottles in the state” said the Chief Minister, PS Golay while addressing the Global Sherpa Day here in Gangtok on October 9. 

Advocating the importance of keeping our own premises clean and green, the CM urged everyone to keep their surroundingsclean. Speaking about the harmful effects of plastic towardsenvironment and human health, he declared that the government will soon impose complete ban on the selling and use of the packaged drinking water bottles in the state of Sikkim. In coming days no hotels or shops can be seen selling or using suchwater bottles, he added and urged everyone to use available natural spring water for the tourists instead.

When we talk about plastic it has become an everyday issue as the use of plastics continues to rise in our daily lives due to the ease and convenience that it provides us. We may get the plastics at very cheap price but the cost that it leaves behind, which is not known to many, impacts our health and especiallyto our environment.

By just taking a look around our surroundings; we can realisethat there is too much plastic that one can see at places such as dumping and landfills areas and also by the roadside. Plastic is almost everywhere because it is used to do a lot of things ranging from packaging of food stuffs, water, milk, and many other consumer products. Thus, plastic has become part of our lives.

As per the studies, plastics are made from fossil fuels. The use of these leaves a large ecological impact on the environment, not to mention that these plastics do not break down or decomposeeasily. According to studies of Environmental Services, a discarded plastic bottle takes more than 450 years to decompose.

More to that, along with the environmental impacts, the plastics are known to leave behind chemicals which effects human health and many other chemicals in plastics have even been linked to cancer.  

For these reasons, some governments are interested in banning the use of single-use plastic water bottles in their regions to lower these impacts on the environment and promote sustainability within the state. And Sikkim is also soon going to be listed in this list of states.

It’s been more than a decade that Sikkim has banned the use of plastics (mainly plastic carry bags) in the state and recently from October 2, 2019, the practice of single-use-plastics has also been banned in the state along with the country. It was declared by the Union Government and Sikkim has also enacted the same in regard to the single-use-plastic. In 2016, the state of Sikkim restricted the usage of plastic water bottles (in government functions and meetings) along with styrofoam products.

Despite being the state to enact a ban on plastic water bottles, especially in government functions, Sikkim has not yet experienced much positive effect from the implemented ban. The state has seen the total number of bottles in any premises increase. The state government has installed various filtered water stations at MG Marg area, which may be of held in cutting down the use of packaged drinking water bottles.

Some alternatives to plastic bottles are already available. Asimple solution to this is to use a reusable bottles and fill it up. Another alternative to single use plastic bottled water is aluminum can. Aluminum cans are unique in that they are most often recycled directly back into aluminum.

The CM during the function also informed that the SKM government has initiated various initiatives and the ministershave adopted different villages and areas to keep these areasclean. 

As per the government initiative now the CM has to plant at least 1000 saplings annually and like wise the ministers need to plant 500 saplings, the chief secretary 300 and so on, in order to keep the environment greener and cleaner. 

As per a national report, India generates approximately 26,000 tonnes of plastic waste daily, which makes it the 15th largest plastic waste generator in the world. A 2018 report by The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) states that plastic accounts for 8 per cent of the total solid waste generated in the country annually.

It may be mentioned here that the Prime Minister had on August 15 called for a nationwide movement to put an end to single-use plastic from October 2, 2019 on the occasion of the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.

On the other hand there has been a great misconception on the fact that bottled water is better and cleaner than tap water but as per some studies and report, the reality behind it is rather the opposite as tap water is maintained under very strict rules than that of bottled water as per the studies. People have to understand this and if people could understand this then there would be no use of plastic water bottles. Packaged drinking water also has health risks at the same time.

Awareness regarding the negative impact plastic water bottleshave on the environment have however increased. But despite most people knowing that plastic water bottles are bad for the environment, this awareness has not resulted in drop in the use of plastic water bottles. In fact, its use is still on the higher side.

As per studies,  90% of plastic water bottles are not recycled after use, meaning that billions of plastic bottles are entering our landfills, and even our oceans, every year, which in fact created problem not only with the environment but created problem with solid waste management, as most of the landfilled areas are covered with plastic bottles and other plastic materials, which is creating problem with solid waste management in hilly places like Sikkim, where the landfill sites are very less and difficult to find additional proper landfill sites. 

Now it is up to the general public also that how they take the policy makers’ decision and help the government in implementing the policies and the decision taken in regard with the packaged plastic water bottle ban, by the government in larger interest of the people and the environment.

It is the fact that without the support and participation of the general public it is difficult to see the positive effect from thepolicy or the decision that has been implemented. It’s the public who can play a vital role in making any policy of the government successful. 

Public participation in policy decision implementation is an integral part of public administration and democracy and is also an essential ingredient of community development. The process of public participation in policy implementation can be strengthened the overall development of the state. Public participation is an appropriate mechanism for making any policy decision implementation a success. So, it is the duty of all citizens help the policy makers in implementing these kinds of ban which are being framed for the larger interest of the people and for the sustainability of environment.

As per a local shop in Gangtok, they sell at least one carton of bottled water during normal days and it goes as high as 2 to 3 cartons (one cartons contains 12 bottled water) during tourist season in Gangtok and that is the case of a single shop.

Reference:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bottled_water_ban

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