Lifting of ban on the manufacture, sale and use of polythene bags above 50 microns by the J&K government has put a question mark on the seriousness of the administration to save the ecology of the State particularly eco-fragile environment of Kashmir.
According to reliable sources, the government has lifted the ban to benefit strong lobby of polythene manufacturers in and outside the state.
"There is a nexus between some politicians and officials. For their own benefit, the government has lifted the ban on the manufacture, use and sale of polythene bags above 50 microns in thickness. They have allowed a Nagpur based company to supply polythene bags for use and sale only at the cost of the eco-fragile environment of the valley," they said.
"It is very unfortunate on part of the government to allow polythene bags in the valley at the cost of our environment. Allowing use of polythene bags can be disastrous for the ecology of our state as the area is eco-sensitive particularly the tourist destinations in the valley. This is a serious concern for all of us," environmentalists said.
Environmental lawyer Nadeem Qadri said that they are challenging the lifting of the ban by filing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL). "We are examining the legal issues and we will challenge it in the court of law in due course of time," he said.
When contacted, chairman State Pollution Control Board B Siddhartha Kumar said that the ban on polythene bags above 50 microns in thickness has been lifted across India and keeping in view the same state government has too lifted the ban.
"There is a company by the name 'Kamal Poly Pack India' based in Nagpur which has started to supply polythene bags in the state. The packing of the polythene bags has a Lotus logo on it and has been named as 'Kamal Pick-Up Bags,' written in Hindi," another lawyer said.
"By writing 51 microns on the packing doesn't prove that the polythene bag is exactly above 50 microns. So it is clear that there is a nexus between some politicians, officials and polythene manufacturers only to benefit themselves at the cost of our environment," he said.
"How can a common man differentiate what is 50 micron and more than 50 micron? This is a ploy to benefit some polythene manufacturers who are in nexus with the government," he said.
The state government lifted the ban silently in March this year, thereby nullifying the blanket ban on the use of polythene bags.
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, by allowing the use of polythene bags of above 50 microns in thickness, the government has overridden the High Court order.