Twenty-five Indian states will have to pay a pollution compensation of `1 crore each per month of delay to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB ) for failing to submit their action-plans on systematic disposal of plastic waste. The CPCB had moved the National Green Tribunal (NGT) over the states’ non-compliance. While the penalty may seem a paltry sum, the states’ lackadaisical attitude towards plastic and solid waste management could cost the country big.
Indian consumes over 16 million tonnes of plastic every year, of which 80% is discarded as waste. States and municipal corporations have so far not paid heed to the problem. The states were supposed to report how they planned to implement the Plastic Waste Management (PWM) Rules 2016—amended 2018—for segregation, collection and disposal of plastic waste.
The plastic waste generated mostly ends up in landfills or flows through drains and rivers and lands up in the oceans where it is ingested by marine animals—nearly 18 billion tonnes of plastic waste flows into the oceans every year. Dioxins from uncollected plastic waste—as much as 40% of India’s plastic waste goes uncollected, as per the CPCB—also contaminate groundwater and soil.
So, there is a crying need for accurate data on plastic, on generation, collection and disposal, as these are crucial to the plastic waste management path the country follows on the whole. India is a signatory to the 2019 United Nations Environment Assembly’s resolution to phase out single-use plastics, the deadliest of the plastic pollutants. Unless states fine-tune how they want to deal with plastic waste, realising this goal seems impossible.