India bans many single-use plastics to tackle waste choking rivers and poisoning wildlife

Agencies
July 1, 2022

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New Delhi, July 1: India imposed a ban on many single-use plastics on Friday in a bid to tackle waste choking rivers and poisoning wildlife, but experts say it faces severe headwinds from unprepared manufacturers and consumers unwilling to pay more.

The country generates around four million tonnes of plastic waste per year, about a third of which is not recycled and ends up in waterways and landfills that regularly catch fire and exacerbate air pollution.

Stray cows munching on plastic are a common sight in Indian cities and a recent study found traces in the dung of elephants in the northern forests of Uttarakhand state.

Estimates vary but around half comes from items used once, and the new ban covers the production, import and sale of ubiquitous objects like straws and cups made of plastic as well as wrapping on cigarette packets.

Exempt for now are products such as plastic bags below a certain thickness and so-called multi-layered packaging.

Authorities have promised to crack down hard after the ban -- first announced in 2018 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi -- came into effect.

Inspectors are set to fan-out from Friday checking that no suppliers or distributors are flouting the rules at risk of a maximum fine of 100,000 rupees ($1,265) or five-year jail sentence.

Around half of India's regions have already sought to impose their own regulations but as the state of rivers and landfill sites testifies, success has been mixed.

Firms in the plastics industry, which employs millions of people, say that alternatives are expensive and they have been lobbying the government for a delay to the ban.

Pintu, who earns his living hacking the top of coconuts with a machete and serving them to customers with a plastic straw, doesn't know what he will do.

Switching to "expensive paper straws will be tough. I will likely pass the cost to the customers," he told AFP in New Delhi.

"I've heard it'll help the environment but I don't see how it'll change anything for us," he added.

GlobalData analysts said small packs with plastic straws make up 35 per cent of soft drinks volumes, meaning manufacturers will be "badly hit".

"(The) price-sensitive masses are unable to foot the bill for eco-friendly alternatives," Bobby Verghese from GlobalData added.

Jigish N. Doshi, president of industry group Plastindia Foundation, expects "temporary" job losses but said the bigger issue was firmed "which had invested huge capital for machines that may not be useful" after the ban.

"It's not easy to make different products from machines and the government could help by offering some subsidies and helping develop and purchase alternative products," Doshi told AFP.

Satish Sinha from environmental group Toxics Link told AFP that "there will be initial resistance" as finding replacements may be hard but it was a "very welcome step".

"There will be difficulties and we may pay the price but if you're serious about the environment, this is an important issue that needs a concerted push," he said.

One young company trying to be part of the change is Ecoware, which makes disposable bio-degradable products at its factory outside Delhi.

Chief executive Rhea Mazumdar Singhal told AFP that the appalling state of landfills and widespread plastic consumption inspired her venture.

"We've seen plenty of bans before, but as citizens the power lies with us," Singhal said. 

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News Network
August 17,2022

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New Delhi, Aug 17: The BJP has launched a social media campaign — ‘Desh ki Badli Soch’ (country’s mindset has changed) — to project Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a favourable light by comparing his Independence Day speeches with those of his Congress predecessors.

On Tuesday night, the party shared on its Twitter handle many graphics quoting parts of speeches made by Modi and his predecessors Manmohan Singh, Rajiv Gandhi, Indira Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru.

One such tweet alleged that Nehru did not pay tribute to fallen soldiers in his 1963 speech, which came after the 1962 war with China. It noted that Modi in his 2020 address remembered those who made the supreme sacrifice in the conflict with Chinese forces in Ladakh.

Sharing a clip from Singh’s addresses in 2008 and 2009 lauding prime ministers from the Nehru-Gandhi family, the BJP accused him of “remembering selective idols and appeasing a family”. The party contrasted it with Modi’s 2014 speech in which he said the country has reached where it is due to the contributions of all its government heads.

In 1975, after imposing the Emergency, Indira Gandhi justified it as “bitter pills” to “cleanse” different aspects of national life. On the other hand, Modi in his 2017 speech, cited democracy as India’s “biggest strength”, the ruling party claimed.

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News Network
August 12,2022

Udupi, Aug 12: A 32-year-old woman lost her life when the motorbike on which she was riding pillion skidded and fell when a cow suddenly came across the road at Vandse village in Kundapura taluk of Udupi district. 

The victim has been identified as Ambika, an assistant teacher at Hemmadi government model higher primary school. She was riding pillion with her husband Srikanth, who is also a teacher at Navundra government higher primary school when the incident occurred on August 11 morning. 

It is learnt that Srikanth used to drop his wife to her school before heading to his school on his motorbike. The couple has a one-and-half-year-old child.

On August 11, when their two-wheeler reached Vandse, a cow suddenly ran across the road. 

In his bid to avoid crashing into the cow Srikanth lost control over his vehicle and it skilled and fell. Even though he suffered minor injuries his wife suffered severe head injuries.  She was rushed to a private hospital in Udupi where she breathed her last by night.

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News Network
August 10,2022

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Bengaluru, Aug 10: The Bharatiya Janata Party state unit president Nalin Kumar Kateel in Karnataka said that Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai will continue for the full term and the upcoming polls will take place under the guidance of BS Yediyurappa.

“There has been no discussion regarding the change of Chief Minister in the BJP-led government. Basavaraja Bommai will continue as Chief Minister for the full term. The upcoming Vidhan Sabha election will be held Under the guidance of BS Yediyurappa, we are going to face it under the leadership of Bommai,” Nalin Kumar Kateel said.

Reacting to the Congress’s tweet about Bommai’s ouster, he highlighted that Congress leaders Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi were facing investigation by the Enforcement Directorate and recently KPCC president D.K.Shivakumar has gotten bail from the court. Kateel alleged that Congress was creating confusion like this to hide it all.

“Congress has tweeted this to save the party by hiding its scandals that have come out, the confusion about the chief ministerial candidate is going on in the Congress, they are discussing to make a Dalit the chief minister of the state,” he said.

“After the Siddaramaotsava, there has been a lot of internal fighting in Congress. Senior politicians like KB Koliwada have created a situation where Siddaramaiah was scolded. The debate about who will be the next Chief Minister is increasing. Congress tweeted that he will become the third chief minister in the state government to cover its internal conflicts, street fights and confusions of the party,” Kateel said.

Asserting that the Congress’ status will be witnessed after the results of the Vidhan Sabha elections, he further said, “Congress will not play the game of creating confusion. Let it resolve its internal confusion first and face the elections together.”

Earlier, Referring to the current political developments in the State and the Bharatiya Janata Party, the Congress in a series of tweets took jibes at the government and said that the state appears set to see a third Chief Minister after Home Minister Amit Shah’s visit to Bengaluru last week.

The Congress said that the Bommai government, which has not been able to conduct its first-anniversary “Janotsva”, will soon see its end.

The Congress had said that it looks like Bommai is counting the hours to leave the chair and asked Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai, “Dear Bommai, the ‘sword fight’ for the CM has been started. What is the reason for the change of CM, is it your administrative failure, a fight between leaders, or is it B.S. Yediyurappa’s anger?”

These comments from Congress came a day after former BJP MLA B. Suresh Gowda claimed that the party’s top leadership was considering replacing Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai. He had said, “The Chief Minister might get replaced before Independence Day. There have been talks in the party.”

The Opposition Congress, taking a dig at Bommai, tweeted, “40% government is likely to see a third Chief Minister.” In another tweet, the party said that “the puppet CM Bommai is on his way out.”

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