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Modi launches single-use plastic campaign

A plastic-polluted river in Tamil Nadu.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has again appealed for India to end the use of single-use plastic for the good of the environment. 

Attending an event in Mathura, Uttar Pradesh, Modi joined a group of trash collectors and sorted through waste with them, separating plastic from other refuse. The day saw the launch of a ‘Swachata Hi Seva’ (‘Cleanliness Is Service’) campaign, with freedom from single-use plastic as its core aim. 

“This time, we have associated Swachhata Hi Seva with plastic. With time, plastic waste and plastic problems are increasing; it is harming our animals, rivers, water bodies, aquatic animals and whatnot,” Modi said. “That is why it is important that we say no to the use of single-use plastic. We need to try to free our homes, our offices, our workspaces from single-use plastic by October 2 this year.”

The campaign will build to the 150th birthday of Mahatma Gandhi on October 2nd, by which time the government hopes to have made India rid of open defecation in a bid to improve sanitation and overall health through the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan campaign. “Let’s give Mahatma Gandhi not just an open defecation free India this October 2 but also take a lead and lay the foundation of a new campaign against plastic waste,” Modi added. A ban on six single-use plastic products will come into effect on that date.

Indians consume a considerable amount of plastic, to the tune of 16.5 million tonnes in the 2017-18 period. Concerningly, eighty percent of plastic in the country is discarded as waste. The Prime Minister has spoken out regularly against plastic in recent months, using his Independence Day speech this year to call for a ban on single-use plastic. “Can we free India from single-use plastic?” he said at the time. “The time for implementing such an idea has come.” The campaign shows no signs of losing momentum, with Modi emphasising the role of the campaign in producing a more sustainable future for India. 

“I urge every self-help group,” Modi said, “working in villages, from civil society, from social organizations, from youth clubs, from women’s clubs, from schools and colleges, from government and private institutions, to every individual organisation to join the campaign. We have to make our country free from plastic. We have to do this for our future generation, for our children…

“When our environment is clean, we see a direct impact of it on our health. Environment and livestock have always been a very important part of India’s economic thinking. That is why, whether it is Swachh Bharat, water life mission or promotion of agriculture and animal husbandry, balancing nature and economic development, we are moving towards building a strong and new India.”

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