Single-use plastic is forbidden in protected areas in Odisha

With effect from April 1, the Odisha government on Monday declared a complete ban on single-use plastics within all protected areas, including sanctuaries, national parks, and tiger reserves.

Additionally, visitors to nature camps and Eco-Tour locations will not be allowed to use single-use plastics. The Wildlife Protection Act of 1972’s section 33(C) stipulates that breaking the rules might result in an arrest, a prison sentence, and penalties.

According to Susanta Nanda, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (PCCF-wildlife), the rules are designed to protect forest ecosystems from the negative effects of single-use plastic while also making sure that the general public and tourists are not inconvenienced.

Under the recommendations, local eco-development committees or self-help group (SHG) members would offer alternative drinking water facilities for visitors at various locations inside protected regions. Along with water dispensers, guests to nature camps will receive water bottles made of steel, metal, or other non-plastic materials.

It is urged that guests who are carrying food products wrapped in plastic wrap should dispose of the wraps in designated trash cans and not leave litter in the protected areas. All plastic waste produced by tourists, nature camps, and other locations inside the protected areas will be disposed of in compliance with current regulations.

Additionally, the Forest Department plans to establish solid waste disposal facilities at the nature camps. Forest authorities would, if necessary, confer with the relevant urban local bodies (ULBs) or panchayat over how to dispose of the plastic waste left behind after using food wrappers.

According to Nanda, the government also intends to provide refundable plastic water bottles at the protected areas’ entrances (PAs). Visitors who bring these bottles inside the PAs will be assessed a fee of ~200, which they will get back once the bottle is presented at the door.

Residents of the sanctuaries will also get awareness raising about the decision, which was made with the preservation of their environment in mind, and their need to come forward and support the department in completely ceasing to use the prohibited goods and services. Nanda also said that the district administrations and the Odisha State Pollution Control Board (OSPCB) will be contacted to ensure the prohibition is strictly enforced.