Polythene free Polls

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Central Environmental Authority (CEA) Chairman, Professor Lal Dharmasiri has issued a timely warning that the CEA would take action against those who use polythene for decorations during the forthcoming Local Government election period (LG).

The warning issued by Prof. Lal Dharmasiri could also be considered as creating awareness among the public on protecting the environment instead of being carried away by the whims and fancies of polls organizers during the forthcoming LG polls.

In recent years, polythene in party colours has been extensively used for decorations, without any concern for the environment.

It is a pity to note that even ruling parties irrespective of whatever the election remained ignorant of the use of polythene during the period of previous polls.

The CEA Chairman has warned that he would take legal action against those who use polythene during the election period. The CEA Chief's concern should be taken into consideration with due attention by the Elections Department as well as the Police in safeguarding the environment during the election period.

In the good old days, decorations were done not only during the election period but even for other public events and private functions with tender coconut leaves and plantain trees without harming the environment.

But nowadays, polythene has replaced natural decorations causing extensive damage to the environment.

Apart from the CEA, the Elections Department as well as the Environment Police should go into action prohibiting the use of polythene as a precondition to political parties and their candidates during the election period.

Despite instructions strictly issued by the Elections Department to desist from putting up cutouts of candidates and their party symbols, well-known candidates as well as their parties had come out in a big way, violating the instructions of the Elections Department by putting up huge cutouts during previous elections.

According to CEA Chairman, President Maithripala Sirisena in his capacity as Minister of Mahaweli Development and Environment has instructed the CEA to strictly implement the ban on polythene during the LG election period.

CEA Chief, Prof. Dharmasiri elaborating further on instituting legal action against the use of polythene, has said those who violate the ban would face imprisonment of not more than two years or a fine not exceeding Rs 10,000.

It is noticeable in recent years that not only during the election period, even funerals, weddings, school functions and religious events, polythene is extensively used in the country.

In the best interest of protecting the environment, this new trend should not be allowed to continue at any cost.

When flash floods hit various areas in Colombo, it was found that polythene remained the stumbling block, preventing the smooth flow of flood waters in the drainage system in recent years.

Even stray cattle have been found dead after consuming polythene thrown on the roadside.

As all grass root level LG bodies are going for the polls, campaigns for the polls are expected to cover every nook and corner in the Island.

So the CEA's monitoring of the ban on polythene should not be limited to specific areas and should be carried out countrywide to ensure that the environment is not affected by cheap propaganda activities.

The CEA must also focus on noise pollution during the election campaign period and work out the modalities to prevent noisy propaganda combined with musical programmes, for long hours

As the government has already banned the use and manufacture of polythene products of 20 microns or less from 1 September this year, the Central Environmental Authority must strictly adhere to its decision to ensure polythene free polls for all time!



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