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Sovan urges Kolkatans to refrain from using single-use plastic bags

Kolkata: State Environment minister Sovan Chatterjee
has urged people not to use
single-use plastic bags and other plastic items and dump them on the streets, as it is taking a heavy toll on the environment.
He was speaking at the West Bengal Pollution Control Board office on the occasion of World Environment Day. 'Beat Plastic Pollution' has been the slogan of WBPCB's constant campaign against the use of plastic items.
"We have been conducting awareness campaigns in various forums including schools and colleges, through seminar and debates. Books have been published and posters have been put up in various places, explaining how single-use plastic bags are posing a threat to the environment. Hoardings are also being put up in various places in the city, saying that wetlands and water bodies cannot be filled up by changing their nature, as it would have a huge impact on the ecological balance," Chatterjee said.
He also said that the drainage system in the city often gets clogged due to the single-use plastic bags. This sometimes leads to waterlogging in some parts. People sometimes do not realise how much harm they are causing to themselves and the environment, when they dump plastic items into the drains. The soil is also losing fertility due to excessive use of single-use plastic bags.
According to WBPCB, around 50 percent of the plastic we use is single-use. Every year, the world uses 500 billion plastic bags. Every year, an estimated 8 million tonnes of plastic wastes are dumped into the world's oceans.
State pollution control board chairman Kalyan Rudra said that a directive has been issued to all the municipalities and Panchayats, instructing against the use of single-use plastics, to protect the environment. Rudra also said that WBPCB is not an implementing authority and hence it cannot enforce law against those who are flouting the guidelines. The enforcement part lies with the Centre, he maintained.
Arnab Roy, principal secretary of the Environment department, said that schoolchildren should be made a part of the 'Beat Plastic Pollution' campaign. The department conducts programmes to take stock of the situation in various fields to protect the environment.
A report prepared by the Environment department says that afforestation has been increased. Many water bodies have been dug up under the Jal Dharo, Jal Bharo scheme. If there is any attempt to fill a waterbody, the civic body or the district magistrates will take possession of the particular waterbody for its preservation.
Meanwhile, Medical Bank distributed paper bags among pedestrians at Sova Bazar Metro station, requesting them to stop using single-use plastic. Its members also put up posters and placards, urging people to use paper bags as a part of their programme on World Environment Day.
Various schools across the state organised awareness programmes on this occasion. Krishnachandrapur High School at Mathurapur in South 24-Parganas was no exception.
A seminar was organised inside the school auditorium on Tuesday, in which students were imparted knowledge on dealing with environmental hazards. An exhibition and quiz contest were held by the students of the school.
Dr Abhisek Sahu, a scientist of Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics and the headmaster of the school Chandan Kumar Maiti, delivered lectures on how to protect the environment. The students also planted trees in the nearby areas.
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