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I opposed ban on single use plastic as it would cause job loss: Congress era environment minister wants India to keep using plastic

Congress seems to have developed a knack of opposing whatever PM Modi proposes, just for the sake of it without delving in details about the outcomes of his proposed measures.

In one of the recent measures to stamp out single-use plastic that form a major chunk of waste accumulated in the cities and villages across India, the Modi government has decided to enforce a country-wide ban on single-use plastic and provide a boost to the environmentally-friendly substitutes in order to emancipate the country from this ecological menace.

However, for Modi detractors, the more pressing concern is to somehow oppose PM Modi regardless of its benefit and usefulness. Congress leader and former environment minister Jairam Ramesh quoted an article published on the Print and slammed PM Modi’s move to enact a ban on single-use plastic. Ramesh stated that such a move might spell doom for lakhs of people employed by the plastic industry and the government’s focus should be on waste disposal and recycling.

Ramesh claimed that when he was the Environment Minister in UPA regime, he had resisted a blanket ban on single-use plastic because it directly affected lacks of jobs in that industry. According to Jairam Ramesh, as there might be a possibility of job loss, one should turn a blind eye to the environmentally hazardous practices such as production and usage of single-use plastic.

According to a report by the United Nations, the world now produces more than 300 million tonnes of plastic waste every year. A large chunk of it ends up in water bodies and oceans.

The myopic view exhibited by Congress leader ignores the imposing reality of Climate change that is profoundly affecting Earth’s ecology. Single-use plastic not only clogs waterbodies and damages the ecosystem, but it is also killing millions of animals every year, both on land and the seas. It is to this end that PM Modi had insisted on real and concrete steps and working towards restoring the environment and reaffirming India’s commitment to the Paris agreement on Climate change.

Congress seems to have developed a knack of opposing whatever PM Modi proposes, just for the sake of it without delving in details about the outcomes of his proposed measures. Jairam Ramesh has opposed the ban on single-use plastic claiming it may have economic challenges. However, as a former minister for environment, he should be aware that single-use plastic and its ill-effects on the environment cause greater damage to a nation’s climate, health and the livelihoods of people than the short-term impact on jobs which can always be replaced with more sustainable alternatives.

Even Ramesh’s second argument that the government should invest in recycling and waste disposal instead of enforcing a ban on single-use plastic doesn’t hold water. According to the United Nations Environment Programme, plastic can take up to a thousand years to decompose. Even recycling of plastic products is not a panacea for problems related to their wastage. Experts believe that plastic products have an end life and cannot be recycled more than three-four times. In fact, recycled products are often more harmful to the environment because of added chemicals, colours and preservatives.

However, such nuances are perhaps lost on Congress leaders, who in their desperate bid to come back to power feel no qualms in endorsing the degradation of the environment just to oppose PM Modi.

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Jinit Jain
Engineer. Writer. Learner.

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