Additional Chief Secretary Awanish Awasthi, Department of Home in Uttar Pradesh government has asked officials on August 12 as to why plastic and polythene why not banned despite strict orders; why Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s order in black and white has not been complied with. He set another deadline of August 31 to ban polythene otherwise a strict action would be taken against local police and administrative officials.
Interestingly, this is the fourth directive from the state government in the last one year about banning polythene in open market. So, Awasthi, in his August 12 order has asked why the previous orders have not been complied with.
The first order to ban polythene was issued by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on July 15, 2018. The order was issued after Allahabad High Court banned polythene. Chief Minister announced on July 15, 2018 that Uttar Pradesh would be plastic and polythene free. Yogi even signed a government order saying that thermocol would also be banned in Uttar Pradesh from October 2, 2018. The state bureaucracy was entrusted with the job to ensure that plastic glasses and polythene bags should not be available in the open market. Orders were issued to seal factories where such plastic bags are manufactured. Government also said that alternative arrangement should be made available to the people.
The bureaucracy failed to comply with these orders. Once the initial euphoria fizzled out, plastic and polythene made a comeback in the open market. When the High Court questioned the state government on ban on plastic and polythene, the government became active again in May, 2019 and on June 3, 2019 Chief Minister held another round of meeting with officials asking them to implement the ban in letter and spirit. He even reminded the officials that Swachhata (cleanliness) is the dream project of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and should be implemented in totality. But the ban became a butt of joke among hoi polloi.
After a cosmetic ban, the polythene was back again. “Do you think government actually wants to ban polythene? These orders (to ban polythene) are a ploy for the local police and Nagar Nigam inspectors to fleece traders and roadside vendors. If it really wants to ban polythene it should seal the factories which produce polythene bags. These factories are not closed because the owners give good bribe to the officers,” said a vegetable trader from Bhootnath Sabzi Mandi in Lucknow.
This is not the first time the Chief Minister’s orders are thrown to the lumber room by the state bureaucracy. There are many directives which have conveniently been forgotten. Government had earlier announced to make all roads across Uttar Pradesh gaddha mukt (pot-hole free), distribution of books, sweaters and shoes among the school children in state-run schools, checking bootlegging and ensuring payment of agricultural dues to farmers like in sugar cane, wheat, paddy and potato whose MSP is announced by the state government – all have fallen flat.
The performance of any government depends on public perception. There is a public perception that during Mayawati’s regime, the administration was at its best. Even officers say that they were scared of attending Mayawati’s review meetings because heads were bound to roll in the meetings.
It is high time that CM Yogi also sent some right signals to the people of the state, to take action against corrupt and non-performing ministers and bureaucrats so that message could go across that the BJP government of Uttar Pradesh means business.