New Delhi: The Indian Railways will help recharge phones of passengers if they use plastic bottle crushing machines installed at stations in a bid to promote Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s initiative to junk single use plastic. In his Independence Day speech, Modi had appealed to the nation to eliminate single-use plastic and find alternatives to plastic water bottles on a priority basis.
Railways have issued directions that from 2 October this year, single use plastic will not be used on its premises. Railway Board Chairman VK Yadav has said that railways will install 400 bottle crushing machines at stations in which a passenger wanting to use them will have to key in his phone number into the machine and his phone will be recharged. However, details of the recharge were not known immediately.
Currently, 160 bottle crushing machines have been installed by the railways at 128 stations, Yadav said. He also said that instructions have been given to railway staff to collect all the used plastic bottles at railway stations and send them for recycling. Earlier, the ministry had issued instructions to all its vendors and staff across its network to use reusable bags to reduce plastic footprint. A pledge will be administered to cut use of plastics on 2 October.
Apart from the Railways, the Food and Consumer Affairs Ministry has decided to ban single-use plastics in its various departments as well as the public sector units under its administration from 15 September.
The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has proposed the ban of 12 plastic pollutants which include straws, small cutlery, plastic sticks used for ear buds, balloons, flags and candies, thin carry bags (less than 50 microns), and non-woven carry bags. The decision was taken at a meeting held by Union Food and Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan.
Paswan announced “a blanket ban on all types of single use plastic products” in the ministry as well as PSUs, including Food Corporation of India (FCI) from 15 September. The decision on this was taken in a high level meeting with secretaries of both the departments i.e. Consumer Affairs and Food, CMD of Food Corporation of India, DG Bureau of India Standards, MD of CWC, Director Legal Metrology along with other senior officials of the ministry.
Paswan asked the officials to make alternate arrangements to ensure that the ban is effective, an official statement said. Moreover, the department said, it distributed cloth bags to employees to reduce the consumption of single use plastics. “Department of Fertilizers is committed to do its utmost efforts to reduce the consumption of single use plastics. As these are non-biodegradable they pollute our environment,” it said.
An effective ban on single-use plastics can happen if an alternative is available in the market. Cloth or jute bags, locally tailored and produced, can be a viable alternative, an official statement said.
“Looking into such opportunities, Department of Fertilizers, during the Swachhata Pakhwada and Swachhata Hi Sewa campaign decided to distribute cloth bags produced by Women’s Self help Group Laxmi Devi Swasya Group of village Maragondanahalli Grama Panchayat Ramohalli district, Karnataka to its employees,” the statement said.
The department termed it as a small step to reduce single-use plastic usage and, to make people aware of viable alternative. “Department of Fertilizers is committed to do its utmost efforts to reduce the consumption of single use plastics. As these are non-biodegradable they pollute our environment,” the statement said.