Plastic waste helps dengue mosquito breed, says TN Health Secy

As dengue cases in Tamil Nadu go up, activists feel it's time for a complete ban on single use plastics.
Plastic waste helps dengue mosquito breed, says TN Health Secy
Plastic waste helps dengue mosquito breed, says TN Health Secy
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With increasing number of dengue cases in the state, the Tamil Nadu Health Secretary has said that plastic waste is one of the reasons for mosquito breeding. 

Activists claim that it is time for the state to have a complete ban on single use plastics.

Addressing the media in Salem on Wednesday, Tamil Nadu Health Secretary J Radhakrishnan said, “Our request to the general public is that this mosquito breeds in good water, so people should understand the cycle of the mosquitoes and know that it can breed in blue drums, Sintex tanks in houses. It can also breed in plastic bags on empty lands and also stagnated water on the terrace. The mosquitoes could breed in stagnated water behind the fridge or ACs or tyres. With the help of people, we are trying to remove breeding mosquitoes in these places. And for treatment, we are asking them to follow WHO guidelines.”

Environmentalist and activist Piyush Manush welcomes the fact that mosquitoes breeding in plastic waste is being highlighted. 

“One interesting point that Radhakrishnan made was that the way people dispose plastics currently, then end up in empty plots and this leads to mosquito breeding. What is freely available now is plastics and the Health Secretary has addressed this problem. In ditches or any other place, if there is a disposed plastic, clean water will collect in it and this will breed mosquitoes,” said Piyush Manush.

He added that now is the right time to completely ban plastics in the state. 

“Even after dengue cases if we do not ban single use plastics, we have lost the battle. It is the first time such an official statement has been made,” he said.

In September, the Tamil Nadu government had stated that it will impose a ban on plastic below 51 microns. However, environmentalists feel that it is not an effective move to stop the usage of plastic.

“The micron business is a very tricky business. It makes marginal difference for the manufacturers to escape that 50 microns tag, there is a big loophole and it is very ineffective. When all these packets are thrown, it clogs drains and sewages,” said Piyush Manush.

He added that on a daily basis, there is more than 10,000 tonnes of plastic waste generated in the state.

Mangalam Balasubramaniam, solid waste management expert and managing trustee of Exnora Green, Pammal, told TNM that the below 51-micron rule for plastics is not being followed.

 “The plastic is still being manufactured in Tamil Nadu, at the implementation level, the rules are not being followed. We had a conference and we highlighted this issue with the lawmakers and they said that the consumers should say no then automatically, the manufacturing will be stopped. We told them that once the manufacturing is stopped, people won’t buy that. However, we are finding a solution...we are collecting all the plastic waste below 51 micron and trying to upscale it. We're trying to make different things out of it,” she said.

She added that Chennai has about 5500 tonnes of plastic waste that and every area produces about 11 to 17 % of plastic waste every day.

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