June 1 , 2022
Honorable Chief Minister, Punjab Sardar Bhagwant Mann ji,
AGAPP (Action Group Against Plastic Pollution) is a registered NGO based in Jalandhar which aims to eradicate the manufacture, sale and distribution of plastic carry bags (including non woven carry bags) in Punjab along with other single use plastic items.
The Punjab Govt in 2016 amended the Punjab Plastic Carry Bags Control Act, 2005 to completely prohibit manufacture, stocking, distribution, recycling, sale or use of plastic carry bags and containers made of virgin or recycled plastic and plastic items having one time use such as disposable plastic cups, spoons, forks, and straws after issuing a notification in this regard. Dept of Local Govt and Dept of Rural Development and Panchayat have accordingly put a complete ban on plastic carry bags in their respective jurisdictions w.e.f. 1st April 2016.
This ban, as we all know, has never been enforced. Now the Central Government has issued the same ban effective July 1. 2022 across India.
Thousands of tons of single use plastic bags (made of polythene) are used across Punjab daily. Microplastics are in our food chain. Non-woven bags masquerading as cloth are made of plastic polymers as well and rampantly in use to fool the public.
Just glance at any garbage dump in cities (not just in big landfills), by water bodies, by sabzi mandis, inside dried beds of water bodies as well as inside flowing waters – single use plastic bags cause extensive ecodestruction . However a poster the PPCB issued last week, has NO mention of single use plastic bags in the attached poster they have put out. The PPCB Ludhiana is aware of a hundred plus industries making these bags in their city alone.
AGAPP’s history of activism to enforce the ban on single use plastic in Punjab has the following summarised timeline:
In Dec 2020 and Jan 2021, AGAPP wrote letters to the then CM, Punjab Amarinder Singh with Sant Seechewal ji.
On Feb 11 2020: AGAPP and local bodies Punjab as well as PPCB offices, Punjab received an email from PMIDC directing local bodies to work on enforcing this ban. Jalandhar’s local body head, Commissioner, Municipal Corporation gave an order to the Health Commissioner to start IEP activities. Nothing came of this at all. AGAPP had two meetings with the Health Commissioner, Jalandhar but all he did was make a whatsapp group with relevant “NGOa actors.” including AGAPP.
On 5 Feb 2021, AGAPP members organised a seminar in the PPCB, Jalandhar office where plastic carry bag makers were invited. The Joint Commissioner, MCJ was present there. Proposal was given to reduce GST on compostable lastic bags and open starch supply factories in Punjab (starch to manufacture these bags has to be imported from Korea and Germany).
The PPCB Jalandhar chief engineer, Mr Majithia promised AGAPP they will send a letter to the state government. No letter was sent (we followed up and received no response).
Feb 21, 2021: AGAPP writes to the PMIDC and local bodies to start awareness of compostable plastic bags, seeing that no one in Jalandhar knew about compostable plastic bags initiated briefly in Punjab in 2016, and currently in use in the Golden Temple, Vaishnoo Devi and Tirupathi as well as in some airlines in India and in states like Kerala..
Feb 22, 2021 the PMIDC replied in an email to AGAPP and c/ced all local bodies and PPCBs stating there is “nothing like compostable plastic bags”. This was a direct contradiction of CPCB instructions.
The PPCB in Patiala has yet to tell the PMIDC it is wrong about compostable plastic bags although AGAPP members personally met the PPCB secretary Krunesh Grag on March 10, 2021 in Patiala to request he send an email to PMIDC. The Directorate of Environment and Climate Change, Chandigarh had been non responsive to AGAPP’s emails and phone calls in March 2021 as well.
The CPCB has in March 2021 issued notice to states to give a report on the start of compostable bags. Punjab has not replied to the CPCB( as per RTI reponse received by AGAPP August 2021) as they are simply not complying with the CPCB ‘s order. The plastic manufacturer lobbies in Punjab have been impendiments to every effort to enforce the ban pn platsic carry bags. In fact when AGAPP started work in 2020, there were four compostable plastic bag manufacturers in Punjab. Now there is one remaining. The CPCB is and was charging lakhs from factory owners to license them as compostable plastic bag makers after which they could not sell the product as there is simply no demand. The inept government preceding yours was spreading misinformation about this vital product, the compostable plastic bag, without which eliminating plastic carry bags will be hard if not impossible.
AGAPP’s petitions and letters to the Dept of Local Bodies to enforce the single use plastic ban have fallen on deaf ears and blind eyes.
From 9 Nov 2021 to May 10, 2022, AGAPP held weekly protests in cold and hot weather at the Municipal Corporation (MC), Jalandhar office. The MC, Jalandhar recently started to give some challans to wholesalers distributing plastic carry bags and we see feeble activity in Ludhiana.
However, these are mere drops in the ocean to eradicate the plastic pollution menace despite your commendable efforts to change the Municipal Commissioners in major cities.
Nothing short of direct action by you, Honorable Chief Minister, will eradicate the single use plastic menace in the Punjab.
With the July 1, 2022 ban date on single use plastic including polythene bags around the corner, what is your government’s plan? So far the PPCB remains in denial that there are manufacturing units all over Punjab. It remains blind and deaf to AGAPP’s letters and emails.
We request you to insist that:
- The PPCB spread accurate awareness – their poster attached here is misleading and NOT addressing the plastic carry bag menace which is the single biggest single use plastic polluter. The PPCB must start phasing out manufacture of ALL plastic carry bags in Punjab. And stop the transport of these bags into
- Local bodies start to eliminate distribution and use of single use plastic bags and other single use plastic. We have less than a month to go for the central government ban
- Compostable bags be encouraged and manufactured in Punjab as the substitute to single use plastic bags. These are certified and recommended by the CPCB BUT the Punjab Local Bodies Ministry/ PMIDC has yet to start awareness on this substitute- without which the ban on single use plastic bags will be very hard to enforce.
With hopes of immediate action from your government, Sincerely,
Dr Navneet Bhullar, co founder and worker ,AGAPP,
Pallavi Khanna (President AGAPP) Phone 98152 12100
Advocate Ravinder Arora (General Secretary AGAPP) phone 83603 62640 Dr Rupinder Kaur (Treasurer AGAPP)
Samita Kaur (Working Committtee AGAPP and Warrior Moms) Professor Shubham (Working Committee AGAPP)
Jagdish Chand Nanda (Working Committee AGAPP)
Jaskirat Singh and Kapil Arora ,(Public Action Committee, Sutlej & Mattewara.)
Col Jasjit Singh Gill , (Member STF on Buddah Dariya Rejuvenation and FOUNDER member LET CLEAN LUDHIANA FOUNDATION TRUST(REGD)
Warrior Moms Support our Farmers NGO Mein Punjabi.