Polythene bags – The height of hypocrisy

I have been living at Hyderabad for the past few years. Some time back, A.P. Govt. banned polythene carry bags of a particular thickness. Then all the employees of such polythene bags manufacturing units started making a hue and cry, arranged protests and processions and pressurized the Govt. to backtrack (at least partially). Their logic is that the Govt. is snatching their source of living. It has raised several issues in my mind. The first one is – can under the plea of their source of living, these employees (and their employers hiding behind them) can justify destroying the environment and the Mother Earth ? And are there no alternative jobs available for them which can be provided to them by their employers or the Govt. ?

The thing is – till around two decades back, polythene bags were not at all in use. The newspaper-waste was bought by the shopkeepers at a reasonable rate which was used in making envelopes in which different items were given to the buyers. I remember myself going to the market with a cloth-bag / jute bag in my hand if heavy purchases were to be made by me. Then how did this menace of polythene bags come into our country ?

The answer is simple – greed of the businessmen and the politicians who first propagated these bags only to oust paper bags, jute bags and cloth bags out of the market, snatching the employment of the makers of paper-envelopes, jute bags and cloth bags and above all, forcing the buyers to accept these bags. For the past few years, even when you don’t ask for the polythene carry bag, it is imposed on you by the shopkeeper. Many times, when I go to the shop with my container to carry the bought goods and refuse a polythene carry bag, the shopkeeper mocks me (indirectly).

The lobbies of polythene bag manufacturers are so strong that the Govt. can keep on telling the buyers not to accept the polythene carry bags but cannot stop their manufacturing and flooding the markets altogether. The root of the problem is not aimed at because the vested interests involved are mightier than the environmental concerns. Hollow noises are made to discard the polythene bags and save the environment just to show off. Public is preached not to accept polythene carry bags from the shopkeepers but neither the shopkeepers are stopped from giving sold goods in them, nor the manfacturers are stopped from manufacturing them. The people who are originally responsible for the arrival of this menace only are portraying themselves as the flag-bearers of the environment-protection campaign.

And are the polythene carry bags only the threat to the environment ? Several items are sold in the market in the primary packing involving plastic / polythene and nobody objects to it or even mentions it. What about condoms which are promoted through several Govt.-sponsored campaigns in the name of family planning, population control and protection from AIDS ? What are they ? Is the public properly guided to dispose off the used condoms ? During the Commonweath Games last year, the drainages of Khel Gaon in Delhi were found choked by used condoms and it was a headline in several English and vernacular newspapers as if something amusing or humorous had happened. Was it really something amusing or humorous ? Are the used condoms not a potential threat to environment ?

It takes 1000 years for polythene to disintegrate. And God only knows how much does it take for the plastic to disintegrate. Should such thing be manufactured in the first place which cannot be destroyed or dissolved within a reasonable period ? If God starts creating immortals, will the Mother Earth survive ?

The thing is that India is a country of hypocrites. A lot many campaigns are run, a lot many appeals are made, a lot many ideals are propagated but sans the genuine intentions behind them. When the basic honesty and sincerity is not there, how can the declared objective be achieved ? There is no link between what is said and what is actually aimed at. Mahatma Gandhi had said – Mother Earth has enough for everyone’s need but not enough for everyone’s greed. I don’t know much about the forecasts of the French seer – Nostradamus but I am sure that some day our greed is bound to bring about catastrophe on the Earth which will finish the whole civilization.

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About Jitendra Mathur

A Chartered Accountant with literary passion and a fondness for fine arts
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