Although Uttar Pradesh has banned the use of polythene bags and plastic in every form it seems that Noida Authority and UP Forest Department are immune from that ban.
Greater Noida based environmentalist Vikrant Tongad had alleged that use of plastic bags in planting saplings is damaging the soil even as the Noida Authority and the Forest Departments of Noida and Ghaziabad are oblivious to it.
According to Tongad, the Noida Authority and the Forest Departments of both Ghaziabad and Noida have undertaken large-scale plantation drive, but in many cases the plastic that comes with the saplings is not removed and goes down into the earth with the saplings having disastrous consequences for the environment. He has made several complaints on the Uttar Pradesh online portal for settling public grievances called IGRS.
Tongad pointed out that this year on August 9 at least 22 crores saplings were planted in UP but nobody seems to have cared about the polythene that’s has come with these plants and whether it was disposes of or not.
Tongad and another person Akash made several complaints and sought information from the Noida Authority and Forest Department over IGRS portal to seek their response. The replies Tongad got were startling. The Noida Authority first tried to evade the question however later while replying to Tongad’s allegations had given an ambiguous online reply stating that although plastic was being used in saplings, the Noida Authority is soon going to make a switch to pots made of cow dung (gamla). It also stated that so far no fine has been imposed on anyone for using or trading in plastic with regard to plantations.
However, the Authority’s reply seems to have stem from Tongad’s query on the online portal- seeking as to what is the method of disposal of such plastic and why it is still being used despite a ban in UP.
The Forest Departments of Ghaziabad and Noida have in their reply stated clearly that polythene is being used all over the state and would be only banned after such directions are received from the upper hierarchy.
–By Prasoon Pant
Pix: Vikrant Tongad