ROURKELA: TWO years after the Swachh Bharat campaign was launched and leaders vowed to rid the cities of all kinds of waste, the Steel City is sitting on plastic bomb. A substantial amount of harmful plastic waste daily finds its way to low-lying areas and city roads, clogging drains and upsetting the entire eco-system.
In absence of any mechanism to segregate harmful plastic waste from municipal solid waste (MSW), safe disposal remains a challenge for Rourkela, which has found a place in the third list of Smart Cities released recently.
For 15 years, the city has been making efforts to get rid of plastic menace without success. However, after the notification of new Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016, the Rourkela Municipal Corporation (RMC) claims to be preparing an action plan to fight it.
Sources said, no effort was ever made to ban harmful plastic products, particularly thin carry bags, though Supreme Court in 2000 mandated for comprehensive waste management programme, including plastic wastes. Hundreds of small hotels, roadside eateries and food vendors continue to pack and deliver hot cooked food in thin plastic bags which are major carrier of long-term health disorders for the users.
The situation assumes a bigger shape with unsafe disposal of cheap plastic cups, glasses, plates, water pouches and similar products during festive season, marriage ceremonies, social and political functions.
Odisha State Pollution Control Board (OSPCB) in its inspection report on August 26 observed that plastic waste along with huge volume of domestic waste gets unauthorisedly dumped at the landfill site near Rourkela airport.
The RMC is bound by law to ensure segregation, collection, storage, transportation, processing and safe disposal of plastic waste.
RMC Commissioner AK Mallick informed that a resolution was passed to make it mandatory for all small or big shops using plastic products to register with a monthly fee of `4,000 to `8,000. After awareness drive, plastic products below 50 microns would be fully banned, he added.
Health Officer, RMC, Dr BK Mishra said the city with a population of about 3.20 lakh daily produces about 100 tonnes of domestic waste including 30 per cent plastic waste. An action plan is being prepared to fight the plastic menace, Mishra said.