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Plastic ban not hasty, says central minister in Kolkata

Union environment minister urges West Bengal artisans to manufacture replacements

Jayanta Basu | Published 02.07.22, 07:45 AM
Union environment minister Bhupender Yadav flanked by Union minister of state for environment, forest and climate change (MOEF&CC) Ashwini Kumar Choubey and Manju Pandey, joint secretary, MOEF&CC, at the Zoological Survey of India on Friday.

Union environment minister Bhupender Yadav flanked by Union minister of state for environment, forest and climate change (MOEF&CC) Ashwini Kumar Choubey and Manju Pandey, joint secretary, MOEF&CC, at the Zoological Survey of India on Friday.

Bishwarup Dutta

Union environment minister Bhupender Yadav on Friday claimed that alternatives to various banned single-use plastic items are already available in the market, countering allegations that the Centre has brought the ban on single-use plastic items in a hurry, without arranging for alternatives. 

The minister, however, accepted that more alternatives are required and urged the West Bengal artisans to manufacture replacements.

“We have not brought the norm in a hurry, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had talked about it a long time ago. We had announced July 1, 2022 as the ban date about a year ago. Already several alternatives are available in the market, and more will come,” said the minister at the sidelines of an event held at the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI).

Union minister of state for environment, forest and climate change Ashwini Kumar Choubey, director of ZSI Dhriti Banerjee and several scientists were present at the event.

“The craftsmanship of Bengal artisans is excellent and I urge them to come up with environment-friendly alternatives to the banned items,” said the minister.

Asked whether his ministry would support such endeavour, Yadav shifted the onus on the ministry of micro, small and medium enterprises.

“This is largely an unorganised sector and hence its difficult to provide them financial support unless a specific program is taken up,” said a senior official from state environment department.

During the event held to celebrate the foundation day of the Zoological Survey of India, Yadav pointed out that his ministry is working to build better coordination among 17 “world class” institutes, including ZSI, to work on three core issues of climate change, land degradation and biodiversity.

“We recently organised a two-day nirantar (continuous) meeting within the institutes to facilitate more collaboration and joint action on these aspects,” said the minister. 

ZSI director Dhriti Banerjee pointed out that the scientists of the institute have discovered 6,000 new species of animals to science including about 540 in 2021 alone.

“ZSI has already digitized 18,000 specimens and 2.5 lakh pages of publications, and I want it to further complete the work under the digital India vision of the government, so that it can play a key role in global conservation effort,” said the minister adding that the institute has already signed agreements with 25 major universities and academic institutes in the country and with the Natural History Museum of London. 

“Its good to hear the vision about ZSI but the fact remains that out of Rs 80 crore we get annually, only Rs 15 crores is spent on research, as a major portion is spent on salaries,” said a senior scientist.

Kailash Chandra, who was director before Banerjee took over, also raised the issue of more budgetary allocation for research during his talks in front of the minister.

Later while asked about the issue, Yadav told The Telegraph that he is working to facilitate more support for not only ZSI but all the institutes under his ministry.

Last updated on 02.07.22, 07:47 AM
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