Single-use plastic has made a big comeback in the country with COVID-19 dealing a fatal blow to the campaign launched under Prime Minister Narendra Modi's inspiration to discard it, environmentalist Anoop Nautiyal said on Monday.
The prolonged lockdown has had a good effect on the environment in general by bringing down pollution levels but the increased use of masks, gloves, face shields, PPE kits sanitiser bottles etc to fight the pandemic has given rise to new concerns, he said.
"Anyone would admit that single-use plastic has made a big comeback post corona. The campaign against it which began on Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Independence Day call from the ramparts of the Red Fort to discard it is almost dead," Nautiyal, a politician-turned-environmentalist, said.
"After the prime minister's call an atmosphere was built all over the country to discard single use plastic. A massive campaign named "Swachchta hi Seva" was launched. Around one lakh people made a human chain in Dehradun to back the campaign," he said.
All that, however, has come to nought with Corona making it compulsory to wear masks, gloves, face shields, PPE kits, he said.
As many activities which remained suspended for months have now been resumed, the momentum with which the campaign against the single-use plastic was launched needs to be revived during unlock-II, he said.
Asked how can it be done when use of masks, sanitiser bottles, gloves, PPE kits were a must in the fight against the pandemic, Nautiyal said a collective thinking on developing alternatives like reusable cloth masks and gloves to replace the current ones is needed.
Nautiyal also sought the creation of a sound institutional mechanism in Uttarakhand for the disposal of bio-medical waste in accordance with the guidelines of the Central Pollution Control Board in view of the pandemic.
An estimated 5,500 kg of bio-medical waste is generated every day by around 3,000 private and government hospitals in the state, he said calling for creation of institutional systems to examine whether in times of corona bio-medical waste is being disposed of as per the norms set by the CPCB.
Nautiyal had unsuccessfully contested the 2014 Lok Sabha polls on an AAP ticket from Tehri.