Police to be empowered to enforce polythene ban

Study shows prohibition ineffective

By Manoj Ratnayake

A recent study has shown that the ban on polythene is largely ineffective and unlikely to reduce its use in the country.

Sampath Prasad Fernando, a research officer of the Kobbekaduwa Agrarian Research and Training Institute, says that in terms of the findings of the study conducted by him, the majority of a random sample of 1,390 people of the Western province believed that the government’s ban on polythene had failed to generate the desired results.

The ban is largely ineffective without a proper alternative being offered on the use of polythene, the study outlined.

Of the people interviewed during the study, 62% were of the view that the prohibition on polythene had failed to impact positively on achieving its objective of reducing environmental degradation, the researcher said.In the case of consumers using polythene, 41% said that they were now using more polythene bags (commonly called ‘siri siri’ bags) than before the ban came into effect.

Overall, it can be concluded that the ban on polythene is merely restricted to paper, as practically, there has been no tangible impact in efforts to curb its use in a bid to save the environment, Fernando said.

The police have no powers under the law to enforce the ban though there exists a separate unit in the police department to ensure environmental protection.

A senior police official, who asked not to be identified, said the President’s attention has already been drawn to the matter.

The environmental police are expected to be brought into the picture to tackle the growing threat of widespread polythene use, he said.

"We are waiting for a directive to crack the whip on the indiscriminate use of polythene", the police official said.

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