Home / News / India /  How covid-19 is reversing the ban on single-use plastic across India

Bengaluru/New Delhi: The pressure on hygiene and paranoia over the spread of the coronavirus is slowly leading to a reversal of the central government’s push to phase out single-use plastic.

The dependence on disposables, such as plastic cutlery, cups, containers, carry bags, and garbage bags, and greater consumption of packaged drinking water as a safety measure to avoid contracting covid-19, as well as the increasing use of packaging material for online purchases, has dampened efforts to phase out single-use plastic, in line with a call given by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his Independence Day speech in 2019.

“Use of plastic is something that we have allowed in Bengaluru in view of the prevailing situation," said Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) commissioner B.H. Anil Kumar.

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government in Delhi led by chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, too, had plans to ban single-use plastic. Plastic with thickness of 50 microns, or less, was banned by the Delhi Pollution Control Committee. However, following the onset of covid-19, the initiative has taken a back seat.

“Right now covid-19 is the priority. There was a whole campaign last year and we had made great progress in it. However, the virus has led to a large increase in the use of single-use plastic, but we are up against a challenge and do not have the resources to take up the issue right now," a North Delhi Municipal Corporation spokesperson said.

Delhi has the highest number of cases among all Indian cities with a total tally of over 87,000.

City corporations are already in a fix over face masks, shields, protective gear and other hazardous waste finding their way into regular piles of garbage, which enhances the risk of the infection spreading. Piling up of plastic disposables has added to the strain on the already inadequate garbage disposal and recycling infrastructure.

Struggling to cope with the rising number of cases, states such as Delhi, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Kerala have relaxed restrictions on the use of plastic of less than 50 microns.

Manufacturers of disposable plastic products said that demand has gone up during the covid-19 pandemic.

Neetu Chandra Sharma and Nidheesh M.K. contributed to this story.

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