Plastic Crisis: Sundarbans
Aug 28, 2021
Plastic Crisis: Sundarbans
Q. Why is this in news?
A. Unregulated inflow of relief to the Sundarbans has resulted in a new crisis in the cyclone-battered region as plastic has been accumulated in the area.
- The threat posed by plastic is so great for the Sundarbans because the region is witnessing frequent tropical storms, which lead to devastation.
Q. What is Plastic Pollution?
- Plastic pollution is caused by the accumulation of plastic waste in the environment.
- It can be categorized in primary plastics, such as cigarette butts and bottle caps, or secondary plastics, resulting from the degradation of the primary ones.
Q. What are the Reasons for Accumulation of Plastic in Sundarban?
- The region is witnessing frequent cyclones, which lead to devastation, followed by the necessity for relief and rehabilitation of inhabitants.
- In geography, a location's relief is the difference between its highest and lowest elevations.
- Plastic waste associated with relief material, used in the aftermath of Cyclone Amphan (May 2020) in the Sundarbans, could cause damage to the eco-sensitive region.
- Prior to this, the region had witnessed cyclones Fani (May 2019) and Bulbul (November 2019).
- Besides recent cases of cyclones in the region, tourists have also contributed to the accumulation as they leave behind heaps of plastic waste that is strewn all over the forest.
Q. What are the Concerns?
- Increase Toxicity:
- The presence of plastic in saline water increases the toxicity of water and could also contribute to the eutrophication of water.
- Eutrophication is the process by which an entire body of water, or parts of it, becomes progressively enriched with minerals and nutrients.
- It also results in oxygen depletion.
- Given that Sunderbans is connected to the sea, the increase of plastic in the region could lead to plastic waste entering the ocean.
- Threat to food System:
- The breakdown of plastics in the water will lead to an increase in microplastics, which would subsequently enter the food system.
- Affects Livelihoods:
- Sunderbans is largely dependent on fisheries and aquaculture and any change in the delicate ecosystem can spell doom not only for the ecology but also for livelihoods.
Q. What are some related Initiatives?
- In 2019, the Union government in a bid to free India of single-use plastics by 2022, had laid out a multi-ministerial plan to discourage the use of single-use plastics across the country.
- Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016 which extended the responsibility to collect waste generated from the products to their producers and brand owners.