The inside of a Conference Hall at Chintan Bhawan Gangtok, which hosted the 2nd North East Healthcare Summit from September 8-9, was devoid of any plastic water bottles or other related items. (Morung Photo)
Gangtok | September 10
As delegates from all North East states and other parts of India gathered for the 2nd North East Health Care Summit in Gangtok, one thing was conspicuously absent. Plastic bottles.
The omnipresent plastic water bottles that deck every event, in Nagaland at least, were missing from the conference hall.
For the delegates to quench their thirst, a water filter, with glasses, was kept outside the conference hall.
Even in the luncheon area, water was served in glasses while the plates and other wares were made of Bone China and Porcelain.
For the uninitiated, this is a novel initiative started by the Government of Sikkim last year with the view to promote eco-friendly lifestyles.
For effective waste management in an eco-friendly manner, the Sikkim Government issued a directive in May 2016 restricting the use of mineral water bottles in government programmes and banned the use of foam food containers all over the State.
“There has been rampant use of packaged drinking water during departmental meetings and functions which is creating huge piles of garbage that adds to the burden of the landfill … In order to reduce creation of garbage in the form of used drinking water plastic bottles, it is notified that the packaged drinking water bottles may not be used during any government meetings or functions,” stated the order signed by the State’s Chief Secretary.
As an alternative, the Government suggested that the departments can use filtered water or water from large reusable water dispensers or re-usable water bottles in government functions.
Incidentally, Sikkim was one of the first states to ban the use of plastic bags.
At many shops, only brown paper bags are used for purposes other than carrying food items.
In 2016, Sikkim also became India’s first fully organic state besides being regularly adjudged as the cleanest state and best in education and tourist destination.
“Yes, we don’t use plastic in any government function across the state,” affirmed a health department functionary, one of the Health Summit organizers.
At least in our department, it is being followed strictly, she added.
The procedure followed at the Summit was just another scheme to Sikkim’s path towards organic eco-friendly living, which is gradually becoming a way of life.