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Agra’s war on plastic a success
Agra, Jan 26 (IANS):
Published on 27 Jan. 2011 1:01 AM IST
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The Taj city’s success in its two-month-old war against plastic has been so impressive that the Uttar Pradesh government has been encouraged to take the campaign to a state level.
The first positive sign was when Governor B.L. Joshi last week gave his assent to an ordinance to ban the sale of plastic or polythene bags in the vicinity of rivers or any other water body across the state.
The Agra Municipal Corporation launched the campaign against plastic and polythene bags as part of a stepped up effort to clean up this favourite tourism destination. The result has drawn appreciation from environmental groups and government agencies in the state.
In a communication received by Agra Municipal Corporation chief Vinay Shankar Pandey, principal secretary for urban development Alok Ranjan has informed that on the lines of the Agra campaign, all cities in the state have been asked to launch a comprehensive drive to stop use of plastics and polythene.
“The Agra experience will act as a role model,” he noted.
Municipal Commissioner Pandey told IANS that a departmental order has been sent to the municipal corporations in Ghaziabad, Kanpur, Jhansi, Lucknow, Varanasi, Allahabad and some other big cities to launch campaigns against the use of polythene which was a source of a lot of civic problems relating to health and hygiene.
“The Taj city experience has been a success and a campaign on similar lines using the experience in Agra as a role model should be immediately launched,” the order says.
After a week’s gap, four teams of corporation officials resumed the daily inspection of shops, fining offenders and confiscating polythene bags.
The campaign was stalled by some interested groups. Agra Mayor Anjula Singh Mahaur also raised some objections, which created confusion leading to the return of polythene bags in the market. But concerned citizens and pressure groups held a series of meetings and staged a sit-in protest at the Shahid Smarak demanding immediate resumption of the campaign, which had already started yielding results.
Eco-activists Ravi Singh, Rajan Kishore, Desh Deepak and others who staged a dharna told IANS: “The municipal commissioner, Pandey, made a mistake forming a core committee to run the campaign. It’s not the job of committee members but the corporation officials to fine people. The mayor should not have played into the hands of the plastic and polythene dealers.”
Angry eco-activists sent gift hampers to the mayor containing used polythene bags.
Rights activist Naresh Paras said: “Politicians must not play into the hands of vested interests. The anti-polythene campaign has been a huge hit. You won’t find it in the vegetable markets and at the halwai shops. They all use paper bags or other alternatives.”
According to Ambar Vishal, director of an NGO Sankalp, the fight against polythene must go on. The historic human chain formed by more than 100,000 people of Agra should have made the detractors see the writing on the wall.”

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