Apprehending that lifting of ban on polythene would wreak havoc to Kashmir's eco-fragile tourist destinations and environment, the Valley-based civil society, which includes tourism players Sunday alleged that there seem to be" tacit understanding between politicians and manufacturers of polythene to damage environs here for their petty interests."
Citing example of Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council, which has imposed strict ban on use of polythene in Ladakh region, the civil society members including stakeholders in toursim sector rue government's role in allowing manufacture, sale and use of polythene carry bags above 50 microns in thickness to allegedly benefit a strong lobby of polythene manufacturers and importers.
"It is astonishing and at the same time suspicious that despite High Court banning import of polythene, why JK government has silently lifted the ban," questioned President Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mushtaq Ahmad Wani.
"There seems to be tacit understanding between politicians and importers of polythene," he alleged adding that "reintroduction of polythene will wreak havoc with Kashmir environs."
Chairman, Jammu and Kashmir Hoteliers Club, Mushtaq Ahmad Chaya said that the government should immediately revoke order lifting ban on polythene and ban it again to save Kashmir from further environmental degradation.
" Government has to have zero tolerance policy for polythene," he said adding that " they can't have the cake and eat it too, on one hand there are efforts going on to promote tourism but when you allow use of polythene it would pollute our tourism destinations this will leave bad impression on visitors and they would shy away from visiting the place in future if you allow environmental degradation to happen by allowing use of polythene."
In wake of damage to the state's fragile environs due to polythene, the Jammu and Kashmir High Court in 2006 had imposed complete ban on the entry, use and sale of polythene bags at tourist places and healthcare institutions. Subsequently, on June 18, 2008, the JK government banned all kinds of polythene bags in the state by issuing SRO 182 under the J&K Non-Biodegradable Material (Management, Handling and Disposal) Act, 2007.
However, ending the blanket ban on polythene silently, the Forest Ministry has recently permitted manufacture, sale and use of polythene above 50 microns.
Chairman, Kashmir Economic Alliance, Muhammad Yaseen Khan sought Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti's intervention in this issue. "There may be some lobby which for their petty interests is batting for allowing import of polythene but it is a wrong move which will have serious repercussions on our environment."
Khan said that tourism destinations like Himachal Pradesh has put in place strict laws in place to ban use of polythene but here we are doing things which will harm our own interests in long run.
President, Travel Agents Society of Kashmir, Muhammad Ibrahim Siah urged the state government to immediately ban use and manufacture of polythene in Kashmir again.
" This is absurd that government has revoked ban on use of polythene," he said adding that polythene use in place like Kashmir is like inviting a disaster and in the long run it would damage our reputation of being a beautiful tourism destinations due to its harmful effects on environment.