RAIPUR: The Congress government in Chhattisgarh has banned the manufacture and use of plastic for carrying food products but ironically the state liquor policy promotes the use of plastic bottles for the sale of country-made liquor.
This seemingly absurd and contradictory approach of the state government has irked opposition leaders, social activists and health experts.
“Shockingly, in the last three months, people in Chhattisgarh have guzzled over 27 lakh litres of country-made liquor supplied in plastic bottles. What is equally surprising is that the state has spent Rs 40 crore on the supply of plastic bottles. The Bhupesh Baghel government appears directionless, showing a disconnect between what it preaches and practises,” alleged Amit Jogi, the state president of the regional outfit Janta Congress Chhattisgarh (J).
“It clearly indicates double standards and the lack of a policy directive. It's hypocritical and not expected from the state,” added social activist Uchit Sharma.
In the past, the Congress government has been questioned on how approval was given to use plastic containers for liquor without any independent scientific research carried out by the state on its impact.
“Alcohol itself is a solvent. Plastic manufacturers violate the standard operating procedures in plastic making for the sake of profits. Besides the dubious additives used to alter the physical properties of the plastic, the colours and dyes used in making the bottles further heighten the risk,” asserted environmentalist and professor of chemistry Dr Shams Parvez, a US Fulbright fellow.
Excise department officials justified the use of plastic bottles, saying there is an acute shortage of glass.
“The use of plastic bottles will save revenues for the state government. Besides, we are not the first state to use plastic bottles for liquor,” said the special secretary (excise dept) A P Tripathi.
A liquor ban was among the key poll planks for the Congress ahead of the 2018 Chhattisgarh Assembly elections.
The state government set up three committees comprising experts, legislators and social workers to study the prospect of liquor prohibition about four months ago but nothing has happened so far.