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Nagaland and its plastic woes

Nagaland, a land cloaked in greenery, is indeed still a peaceful place for the residents and an awe for travellers who frequent the state. As growth creeps into the state, there has been a noticeable increase in migration into towns and as a consequence in pollution too – a fact only too visible around you with the ever-increasing new concrete structures and vehicles.

One of the highest impact areas of this increasing strain of people on land is the improper channelling of drainage and treatment of sewage. A common sight across parts of Kohima, the state’s capital, is streams that have been converted into drains over time and then jammed with plastic waste.

What causes this?
Among others, it is plastic – used in various forms quite regularly across the state. Water bottles, wrappers, carry bags etc.

What’s the impact?
Blocked drainage – which can result in water stagnation thereby increasing the probability of disease spread, landslides, pollution of the town’s drinking water supply and the like.

While authorities are aware of the issue, the pace of clean up never matches the rate of disposal – which really is a shame, because the Nagas as a society spend a lot of time ensuring that their areas of inhabitation are cleaned periodically and they do this themselves through colony social work efforts. If only such efforts were spent in raising awareness to stop the usage of plastic in total – one might see a dramatic improvement in the ecology of the state.

We are led to understand that the government has set a target of making Nagaland plastic free by the end of 2018. We can only applaud this decision and do our best to support the government in making this state truly plastic free!

Did you know – plastic material could take up to 1,000 years to decompose so think about that every time you use anything plastic – think about what it does to the state and for how long that decision of yours will affect the generations to come.
The gas that is released when burning plastic is considered a dangerous gas as it contains dioxins, that can lead to cancer. We note a lot of families burn their garbage which contains a lot of plastic and also use plastic to keep their home wood fires going. In such close quarters, these dioxins can cause serious health issues for the entire family.

In the past few years, the people of Nagaland have been very active in the clean-up efforts of their towns and villages. Groups led by Project 72 hours, the Church, governmental and non-governmental organisations, schools and colleges have all put hands together to assist in the cleanup effort. From the first week of July 2015, the folks at Project 72 hours have been cleaning up the town of Kohima, encouraging friends, families and visitors to join in cleaning up the town – with a motive to educate people through actions.

We understand that some schools have taken up the initiative of going plastic-free – this helps to keep their campus clean but also to educate students to learn about the impact of plastic usage on the ecology and society. The Kohima Ao Baptist Fellowship in Nagaland has taken a big step towards this cause by distributing handmade cloth carry bags to each family to replace the use of disposable plastic carry bags [2016].

On June 05, 2018, while observing the ‘World Environment Day’ in Kohima and under the theme ‘Beat Plastic Pollution’ at NBCC organized by Environment, Forest & Climate Change Department; the Chief Minister of Nagaland, Mr Neiphiu Rio urged and encouraged people to help achieve a plastic-free Nagaland by December 01, 2018 this year. Actions will be taken to prepare alternatives to plastic, such as cloth bags, jute bags, bamboo cutlery and the like. He also encouraged people to adopt the principle of ‘If You Can’t Reuse It Refuse It’.**

We feel that this is a great step towards the goal of preserving the state’s ecology.

One must look at other countries or states that have excelled in going plastic-free. Indonesia is a great example of a country that has taken this goal seriously through the development of a bag made from Cassava and looks similar to plastic and functions just as a plastic bag would. The Cassava carrier bag is environmentally friendly. This project could also be taken up by the Nagas, as cassava or tapioca is abundantly found in Nagaland.

We can save our home; the earth, and create a better future by adopting the 3 R’s (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle).

** Extracts from Nagaland Post June 06, 2018



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