Hyderabad: Practice before you preach seems to be the approach adopted by the Department of Municipal Administration and Urban Development (MA&UD). The department issued orders for restricted use of plastic in all Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) in the State. Henceforth, all the offices of ULBs are prohibited from using plastic or tetra water bottles, single-use straws, plastic/styrofoam tea cups/containers, plastic below 50-micron plastic or plastic coated items and other forms of single-use or banned plastic.
In a letter addressed to all the heads of departments under MA&UD and all municipal commissioners in the State on Wednesday, Principal Secretary Arvind Kumar issued guidelines limiting plastic usage in all ULBs in the State. He directed them to strictly implement the ban on using plastic in government offices. Further, no office should be found to be using or in possession of plastic bags of below 50 microns as per the Municipal Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016. It is also mandated that all offices follow ‘Twin Bin system’ and dispose off plastic waste strictly in compliance with Solid Waste Management Rules, 2000 and guidelines of Central Pollution Control Board towards plastic disposal.
The guidelines were issued following orders from MA&UD Minister K T Rama Rao to curb the plastic menace, during his latest visit to Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) office where used plastic bottles were found piled up on the premises. The most prominent example is the use of plastic bottles (bottled water) in government offices and meetings. “In any given congregation, we end up using anywhere between 10-200 plastic water bottles depending on the number of attendees and it’s a sheer waste. In addition, government employees in the department are using plastic bottled water in our offices/workplaces as a normal practice,” Arvind Kumar observed. He added further that ‘setting an example, the Minister already stopped using plastic bottles in his office.’
According to an estimation, plastic usage in India is 12-15 kg per person per annum generating about 56 lakh tonnes of plastic waste annually. Taking a serious view, India banned use and sale of polythene bags with a thickness less than 50 microns. “Hence, it has been decided to stop using plastic bottles, cups, and bags at workplaces with immediate effect and instead go for environment-friendly materials like steel and ceramic glasses to replace plastic cups and glasses. The stocking up of single-use plastic items also have been banned,” the Principal Secretary said.
Stating that it was easy to preach to others on the plastic ban, Arvind Kumar felt that ULBs have an additional responsibility of ensuring that they first adopt and implement it before asking others to follow the guidelines. All the departmental heads have been asked to create awareness among all stakeholders on spreading knowledge about the harmful effects of single-use plastic and promote sustainable environmental practices. The officials concerned have been asked to implement the orders and inform their department headquarters with photographs.