The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Victoria, zoo among 10 no-plastic bag zones
Victoria Memorial National Library
Zoological Gardens Botanical Gardens
Millennium Park Belur Math
Subhas Sarobar Bandel Church
Rabindra Sarobar Hazariduari, Murshidabad

Next time you plan to take the family out to funspots like Victoria Memorial or Alipore zoo, be careful not to carry a plastic bag.

The West Bengal Pollution Control Board (WBPCB) on Tuesday passed an order to ban “the entry, use, sale and processing of the plastic carrybags” at landmark ‘heritage and tourist spots’ of the state “with immediate effect”. Ravi Kant, member-secretary, put the official seal on the Board’s bid to keep Calcutta clean.

The designated no-plastic points range from Rabindra Sarobar in south Calcutta to the Botanical Gardens in Howrah, from National Library in Alipore to Hazarduari Palace in Murshidabad (see graphic).

Chairman Hirak Ghosh of the WBPCB said the decision had been taken after observing that “the use of non-biodegradable plastic carrybags” is leading to the accumulation of “a huge quantity of garbage “ and “contamination of water in such heritage areas or in their vicinity”.

The notification further states that violation of the order will attract penal action under Section 188, which includes fines and up to six months’ imprisonment.

The blanket ban on plastic at the popular destinations was taken in consultation with the authorities of the respective places, who have welcomed the verdict. “Management of such waste is a huge menace for them and they are more than willing to enforce the stricture,” explained Ravi Kant.

Why single out these 10 hotspots' “Basically, to spread the awareness and highlight the curse of plastic pollution. All the relevant authorities will put up public notices to the effect and that will definitely increase awareness,” felt Ghosh. This notification is actually an extension of the Board’s policy of declaring certain key areas, like the Sunderbans, the coastal areas, reserve forests and the hills, “no-carrybag zones”.

It also comes in the wake of the statewide ban on plastic bags less than 20 micron thick from January 1, 2002. But neither no-plastic policy has proved much of a success, sending the policy-makers back to the no-plastic drawing board.

“Recently, we have granted punitive powers to block development officers and officials of the Sunderbans Development Authority. This is expected to yield better results,” revealed Board authorities.

Now, if the 10-point no-plastic programme gets going, the Board could extend the ban to other areas, “political will” willing.

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