BENGALURU: Despite a ban on Indian national flags made of plastic being in force since the past three years, the sale of the environmentally harmful flags continues unabated in the city. As recently as August 1 this year, the Ministry of Home Affairs issued a notification urging strict action by state governments to ensure that plastic flags, which are impossible to dispose off without disrespecting the tricolour, are not sold anywhere.
However, when CE visited a few major junctions and shops around the Central Business District, the sale of flags was on. Mohamad Asif (52), a shopkeeper in Shivaji Nagar, says, “We have bought the flags paying thousands of rupees. What do we do with these flags now? We have to get them sold. Many children prefer plastic flags because they are cheaper and easy to maintain in the rainy season. Instead of this move, the government should have banned the manufacturers.” When asked about the disposal of the flags, he says that the remaining flags are packed and preserved for the next year.
Sundaramma (48) sells flags every year on the road near St German School with her husband. She says, “Our business has been badly hit by the government’s ban on plastic flags. The police have warned us that we would be fined `15,000 if the plastic flags are sold but we are unable to sell the cotton flags for the price that the customers ask for. No one wants to buy flags for so much money.” However, the ban has its fair share of supporters as well who are aware of the problems with disposing of these flags in a respectable fashion.
Sister Irine, principal, Mariam Nivas High School in Cooke Town, says, “The children are discouraged from using plastic flags generally and in the school premises, it is strictly prohibited. Even the parents today do not support plastic materials for children.” Lawyer C V Sudhindra says, “Plastics in the city is a menace today and we don’t want our honourable National flag to be a menace. Therefore, the ban on the plastic flag is an apt decision and all the state governments should support it. The manufacturers should themselves find a way to dispose the flags that are already manufactured with plastic materials. It's the responsibility of those who have done the harm to undo it.”
The matter even came up during a hearing of the Karnataka High Court on Tuesday in which a division bench of Chief Justice Dinesh Maheshwari and Justice R Devdas enquired about the sale of plastic flags and asked the city police to keep a vigil on the sale of these flags. "Instructions have been issued to all police stations to ensure flags made of plastic are not sold. If anyone is found selling these flags, we will book cases," says N Satish Kumar, Joint Commissioner, Crime.
- Centre has urged all citizens to discourage use of Indian flags made of plastic this Independence Day
- Flags made of paper are to be only used under the provisions of the ‘Flag Code of India, 2002’
- Paper flags should not be discarded or thrown on ground after the celebrations