Despite SC alarm, `plastic cows’ still roam city streets

The PM’s call to save cows from plastic has brought into focus the long-pending demand of many concerned citizens, animal rights activists and NGOs who have long been fighting for complete ban on use of plastic carry bags and the open garbage disposal system.

They had also moved the Supreme Court that only last month termed the situation “alarming“ after looking at evidence submitted by them and even directed the Centre and states to take necessary steps to address the concerns.

It all started when the Puttaparthi-based Karuna Society for Animals & Nature had in December 2010 received 36 stray cattle from nearby Anantapur town for permanent custody. Soon after their arrival one of the cows died. The postmortem conducted by the NGO’s veterinary surgeon revealed that the animal’s rumen was full of plastic.

After examination of all animals, the doctor advised the society to start surgeries to remove plastic from their rumens to save their lives.

“From the moment we rece ived the `plastic cow’ from Anantapur, we realised that there are hundreds of cattle on the roads feeding on garbage, including plastic. They are sentenced to a slow and cruel death if they do not receive help in time. This is a cruelty most people are not aware of when they see the animals peacefully walking on the street,“ said the society while explaining its `Plastic Cow Project’ -a campaign that resulted in making people and policy-makers aware of the gravity of the situation.

The society , along with individual petitioners including Rukmini Sekhar and Pradeep Nath, had in 2012 moved the SC and brought to its notice the situation in big cities like Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai and Bengaluru where tens of thousands of animals roam with bellies full of plastic.

Sekhar, a Delhi-based petitioner, said she was glad the PM had raised the point that had long been highlighted by several people but she would like to ask why the existing rules had not been implemented either by the Centre or states.

“Either the government is too lazy to implement it or the plastic lobby is too strong to defy rules at will,“ she said. Referring to the July 15 SC order, she told TOI, “With this order in place, one hopes that the Centre will take very strong steps to implement it and issue directions to states prohibiting manufacture, sale and use of plastic carry bags and devise a scientific disposal system.“

In its order, the SC had asked both the Centre and states to take steps in accordance with law by constituting panels consisting of competent persons who have got sufficient knowledge on the subject.It advised that the Centre may also set up an appropriate monitoring mechanism.

Though the environment ministry had recently banned the manufacture, sale and use of plastic bags of below 50 microns and brought out new rules to manage the plastic waste, its implementation continues to be a big problem in many states.

Clementien Pauws, president of the Karuna Society , said she would soon take up the issue with the ministry in the backdrop of the SC order.

The ministry had in March notified stringent plastic waste management rules to regulate use of plastic materials and handling the generated waste.

Source : TOI