Thursday, April 11, 2024

A ‘polythene free’ initiative

Shazia Yousuf

Taking time out of their studies, a group of young boys busily commune with shopkeepers at Lal Chowk. It is not the bargain they are doing for any special product. They are making an appeal to the shopkeepers at Poloview to make their surroundings polythene free from first of April.
“This is a drive to make Kashmir polythene free and we want to create Poloview as a model for it” says Khurram, a boy who leads the campaign. The group, Green Dream foresee a clean environment in and around Srinagar besides clean water bodies that could preserve the beauty of the valley and reposition it as one of the most sought after tourist destinations.
The campaign comes after Srinagar municipality’s double speak which first declared to free Srinagar of non- biodegradable polythene in one week and later sought time till October to do that.
The shopkeepers approve of the campaign, there is mixed response to the implementation part.
“We will be the first ones to do. If Ladakh can be polythene free, why not Kashmir? You boys are doing favour to this nation,” says the owner of a footwear shop, kissing on the forehead of the youngest boy in the group.
There have been no strict measures against polythene usage in Kashmir. Shopkeepers have large stocks of polythene which they do not want to go waste. “Why to tell a lie. For me it is not possible to discontinue the use from first April. I have ordered a huge stock of polythene from Mumbai. It costs me in thousands. I can’t let them go waste,” says the owner of a dry fruit shop at Polo View. The boys insist him on making a sacrifice for Kashmir and move to another shop.
The group receives positive response from the passers-by. They want authorities to lend a positive hand to the movement. “This is all we can do. Authorities, if they want, can ban the manufacturers, dealers and distributors of polythene. Government can stop factories and catch big fish. If they are banned, we will automatically stop using,” says owner of Gee Enn bakers while displaying a pile of paper bags which they have made in response to the drive.
“We make use of food grade polythene. It has got no effects on environment. It is biodegradable. We won’t stop using them,” says a shopkeeper while the group explains that the drive is to make area polythene free in which every type of polythene has to be discontinued.
A group of annoyed shopkeepers want Municipality to come with a proper plan. “Let them make paper bags. We will buy from them. Before banning, they should come up with an alternative,” a shopkeeper says while others nod in agreement.

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Shams Irfan
Shams Irfan
A journalist with seven years of working experience in Kashmir.

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