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Commit to plastic-free Nagaland by Dec: CM

On the occasion of World Environment Day, Nagaland chief minister Neiphiu Rio appealed to citizens to commit to a plastic-free Nagaland by not using any item made of non-biodegradable plastic within six months.
Speaking at the programme to observe World Environment Day under the theme “Beat Plastic Pollution” at NBCC Convention Hall here on Tuesday, Rio also urged the business community to join in the endeavour and extend their active support and cooperation. The programme was organised by Environment, Forests & Climate Change department.
 The chief minister promised that if Nagaland could become “plastic-free by December 1 this year”, then an action plan would be prepared to ensure availability of alternatives like jute bags, cloth bags, bamboo cutlery, etc, to ensure a clean environment.
Towards this, Rio asked chief secretary Temjen Toy to set up a taskforce to achieve the goal so that by resolving to reduce use of plastics, every individual would be contributing to protecting the environment.
Rio also informed that his government was committed to make Nagaland “open defecation free” and exuded confidence that this could be achieved by October 2 this year, a year ahead of the national target.
Referring to NDPP manifesto that promised to launch a campaign for clean and green Nagaland within three months, Rio said the PDA government remained committed to planting trees for a Green Nagaland.
He said that as the nation celebrates 48 months of NDA rule in Delhi, the PDA government has resolved to plant minimum 48,000 saplings in the next one week. In this regard, he said each of the 11 districts and Noklak would be planting a minimum of 4,000 saplings to ensure that the goal of planting 48,000 saplings was achieved.
Rio urged the community, youth and citizens to join in the campaign and plant more trees to turn the dream of a clean and green Nagaland into a reality.
Earlier, calling for a plastic-free environment, the chief minister said plastic pollution was one of the biggest environmental challenges that required action from every individual and behavioural change to reduce the burden of plastic pollution.
Terming plastic as an environmental disaster, Rio gave a statistical figure which estimated that the world used annually up to five trillion plastic bags, mostly made of polyethylene, a low cost polymer derived from petroleum most of which was non-biodegradable.
He said that only 9% of all plastic waste was recycled and that most of the plastic bags just accumulated in landfills and polluted the environment as the synthetic plastic was non-biodegradable.

Rio also pointed out that plastics have become a municipal waste nightmare, prompting local governments across the world to impose bans on use of plastic bags. He also said countries like Bangladesh, France and Rwanda had banned plastic bags, while Chile became the first South American country to approve a nationwide ban on single-use plastic bags on May 30 this year.
Rio also shared the information that one million plastic drinking bottles were purchased every minute and 500 billion disposable plastic bags used worldwide every year, out of which 50% are single use and discarded. He mentioned that plastic takes about 1,000 years to fully disintegrate.
Asserting that the World Environment Day provides was an opportunity to adopt lifestyle changes that could help combat plastic pollution around the world, the chief minister said one needed to act actively and participate willingly to combat the challenge and save the fragile environment.
He advised the people to adopt the principle of “If You Can’t Reuse It, Refuse It” as plastic has become a menace in Nagaland too, especially in Kohima, Dimapur and other district headquarters, resulting in choking of drains and gutters, causing floods and providing a breeding ground for germs and bacteria.
He said though Kohima Municipal Corporation was implementing the Plastic Waste (Management & Handling) Rules, 2011 under the Environment Protection Act, 1986, there was a need to increase awareness as well as enforcement.
Advocating refusal of plastic cutlery in restaurants and functions, Rio said plastic plates and cutlery used in functions and events could be replaced with bamboo products that are not only environment-friendly but also could give a push to bamboo economy.
In his keynote address, forest & climate change and parliamentary affairs minister CM Chang said the World Environment Day was a day for all to come together to combat one of the great environmental challenges.
He said there is a prediction that by 2050 oceans will contain more plastic than fish by weight and that the plastic ending up in the oceans can circle the earth four times in a single year.
Chang proposed redesigned and innovative plastic products, scaling up adoption of reusable plastic packaging, establishing a global plastic protocol, creating a viable market for recycled plastic, improving waste collection, sorting and reprocessing by adopting three ‘R’s – reduce, reuse and recycle.
Meanwhile, Rio handed out prizes to poster competition winners and also released a departmental booklet.
Dreamz Unlimited performed a short play on environmental protection on the occasion, while NLA speaker Vikho-u Yhoshu administered a green pledge to the gathering.


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