NEW DELHI: In the backdrop of India’s commitment to eliminate all single-use plastic in the country by 2022, the Election Commission has asked all political parties and contesting candidates to desist from using environmentally hazardous material like plastics in banners, hoardings, cut-outs and other poll-related articles during upcoming general elections.
It has issued a detailed instructions in this regard and directed chief electoral officers (CEOs) to ensure its compliance through district election officers and returning officers by taking political parties and candidates on board.
“The CEOs will impress upon the importance of using eco-friendly and bio-degradable materials for campaign material to various political parties and candidates in the States/UTs and issue necessary instructions in this regard,” said the Election Commission while announcing the poll schedule on Sunday.
Though the commission has long been maintaining its stand on promoting use of environment friendly campaign materials during elections, its latest instructions took note of India’s commitment and availability of alternate options which have lesser environmental impact.
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) too had directed it on March 1 to take a call on the issue at the earliest and “in such manner as may be found viable” in consultation with the Union environment ministry and the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).
Earlier, the environment ministry on January 17 had brought India’s commitment and hazards of single-use plastic to the notice of the commission and requested it to promote use of sustainable alternate materials during the campaign and also while using election materials for poll purposes.
Environment secretary C K Mishra had written to chief secretaries and CEOs, highlighting how single-use plastic generated during campaigning “does not get collected and causes choking of drainage and river systems, ingestion by stray animals, land and water pollution and open air burning, leading to adverse impacts on human health and environment”.
Referring to alternate options such as compostable plastics, natural fabrics and recycled paper materials, Mishra pitched for use of such alternatives. He said, “The upcoming general elections present an excellent opportunity to introduce a behavioural change in election campaigning and to promote sustainable practices.”