On how to tackle waste in the time of democracy

A special handbook on how to deal with waste during 2021 Assembly polls has been compiled

5,426 tonnes. That’s roughly the volume of waste that Kerala will have to deal with if the upcoming Assembly elections are not held in a ‘green and clean’ environment.

This disturbing projection has been included in ‘Harithachatta Palanam: Samshayangalum Marupadikalum’, (Observing the green protocol: Doubts and Answers), a handbook on green protocol prepared by the Suchitwa Mission and the Haritha Keralam Mission for the 2021 Assembly polls.

The handbook offers a break-up: banners, posters and hoardings alone will account for 2,250 tonnes of non-biodegradable waste, and flags and festoons, another 980 tonnes. Plastic bottles will add approximately 1,050 tonnes. Unchecked use of disposable cups and plates, banned plastic sachets and other plastic products would add 1,146 tonnes more to the pile.

“For the elections to the 15th Kerala Legislative Assembly, there are 40,771 polling booths in 140 constituencies. There lurks a possibility that the gigantic pile of waste generated during the elections, comprising campaign materials, food packets, disposable items and plastic bottles, will be discharged into the environment. This is apart from the waste generated at the polling stations and nearby areas on the election day,” notes the handbook.

The State government issued orders on March 4 for ensuring an environment-friendly election process. “The use of nonbiodegradable and non-recyclable materials is prohibited in election campaigns. The High Court also has issued strict directions in this regard. Violation of the protocol will attract action,” Chief Electoral Officer Teeka Ram Meena says. “Detailed guidelines have been prepared in consultation with the Health Department for the collection and safe disposal of biomedical waste generated during the elections,” Mr. Meena adds.

The handbook advises candidates and political parties to replace flex boards and hoardings with cloth or natural materials such as screwpine and grass mats and bamboo. Flags and festoons can be created from paper and cloth, but cloth with plastic content should be avoided, it notes. It also urges political parties and candidates to use their campaigns to spread the ‘green’ message.

Once the elections are over, political parties should remove the campaign materials and transfer them to the Clean Kerala Company via the Haritha Karma Sena units in the respective local bodies.

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