Among all the major causes blocking and hindering the normal flow of water on the ground, the piling heaps of polythene is undeniably the most serious one. Particularly speaking, the total drainage network across the length and breadth of Bangladesh has virtually been sterilised clearly due to the mindless dumping of the polythene at every possible inch of land across the country.
The bland reality prevailing on the ground manifestly shows that the rampant use of polythene in our packaging practices have turned out to be the single contributory factor behind the re-emergence of much cursed polythene culture in a much invigorating format.
My first concern is about those respected citizens and the think-tank who always express their grave concern and raise their fiery voice of protest at the slightest deviation from the environment-friendly procedure. Though they arrange seminars, symposiums and human-chains at regular intervals, all their deliberations and protesting voices just evaporate only within few days they arrange such activities for protecting the balance of the invaluable environment. Why do such fruitless pursuits happen time and again? Why do the roaring voices of these intellectuals fail to become an echoing message to the millions helping to bring about a social movement against a grossly eco-unfriendly practice?
We can put forward quite a lengthy list of the reasons for the non-impact of the seminars, symposiums and human chains but I really don’t want to do that and that is not the least intention of me. What I actually want is the total prohibition in the use of all sorts of polythene as soon as possible. The nation can hardly bear the curse of polythene just for a single more day. Unless and until we steadfastly cling to the principles of sincerity, sagacity, honesty, altruism, fellow-feelings etc., no real improvement of the prevailing situation is possible. Amid the reality of 85% use of polythene bags and wrappers, how can we expect an overnight switchback to our traditional wrappers and bags? At least this near impossible revolution is hardly possible through insincere and half-hearted efforts.
We always passionately suggest the use of eco-friendly, biodegradable jute and other traditional products for the purpose of wrapping and carrying goods from the markers in our much-vaunted rhetoric. But it is hardly possible to find a single individual free from the use of polythene related wrappers. We may say that we have been caught completely by the octopus of polythene. Still then we can seldom exonerate ourselves from the collective liability of not using the available gunny bags and jute wrappers. Apart from jute-derived wrapping materials, there are quite a number of traditional wrapping options like straw, banana leaves and flakes, lotus-leaves etc. which can easily and securely be used for light-weight and short distance goods.
We all - some in rhetoric and some in intent - want that polythene products and wrappers must go from our life. I have only recently participated in a two-day long seminar on flood, waterlogging and landslide jointly organised by BAPA and BEN at the Jatiyo Krishibid Institute in Dhaka. To my utter dismay, I observed that none of the key-note papers as well as the speakers stressed that seriously on the burning issue of indiscriminate use of polythene. Doesn’t polythene put a major blockade in the way of our drainage channels all over the country? If the common people understand a simple truth regarding the adverse effects of polythene then it is quite naturally expected of our respected think-tank to understand the reverse impact of polythene on our ecology. I firmly believe that indiscriminate use and dumping of polythene around us is obviously one of the three major reasons for waterlogging across the country.
Besides, polythene products clearly erects a strong obstacle to the seepage of water from the upper crust to the lower crust of the earth, thus eventually hampers the fertility rate in producing crops on the earth. According to a survey, 40% loss in the fertility level of the soil occurs due to underground polythene layers. Being an overwhelmingly agricultural country with a huge population, we have to withstand this negative phenomenon at any cost through our united and concerted efforts.It is beyond all doubts that the primary and the most important initiative must be taken by the government. So far as I know it any people-friendly government strictly following the code of accountability, has to take it as an abiding priority in the official agenda to stop the use of polythene in all possible formats immediately. It is a justified and valid question of the whole nation to the government why a completely eco-destroying ingredient that is suffocating the breathing of our environment is still going strong in full swing before the vigilant eyes of the government.
We can only recommend the limited use of polythene providing we take all possible arrangements and proper management of recycling and re-fabrication of polythene wrappers and poly bags. Moreover, it is a horrible reality that only 5% to 10% of all selling points maintain dumping baskets at their venues. At least, the government’s sincerity is enough to make the owners of the selling points to mandatorily maintain the dumping baskets at their commercial premises. Like many others I really don’t know the Achilles’ heel of the government in this most serious issue of the environment.
The writer is an Assistant Professor of English, Bogra Cantonment Public School @ College. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org