Hyderabad: In a significant step towards conservation of the environment, the Telangana government today issued guidelines to limit plastic usage in offices of urban local bodies in the state. The guidelines followed a directive by the municipal administration minister K T Rama Rao to all commissioners to curb the plastic menace, a state government release said.

In a letter to all heads of departments under the Municipal Administration and the commissioners, Principal Secretary (Municipal Administration) Arvind Kumar urged them to strictly implement the directives on plastic usage. Kumar pointed out that India currently generates around 56 lakh tonnes of plastic waste annually. Plastic menace was also one of the major causes of makingwaste managementa herculean task for the country, he said.

"The usage in India is an estimated 12-15 kg per person per annum," he said in the letter. Kumar said several cities and countries around the world have begun banning plastic, especially plastic bags. "India has banned use and sale of polythene bags which basically have a thickness of less than 50 microns," he said.

The Urban Local Bodies have an additional responsibility of ensuring that they first adopt and implement what it wishes others to do, he said. He directed all ULB offices to discontinue usage and ban stocking of single use plastic items like drinking water in plastic and tetra bottles,single use straws,plastic, styrofoam tea cups and containers, plastic below 50 microns or plastic coated items and any other forms of single use or banned plastic.

No office should be found to be in use or possession of below 50 micron plastic bags as mandated in the Municipal Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016, the official said. "It is mandated that all offices follow Twin Bin system and dispose off plastic waste strictly in compliance of Solid Waste Management Rules, 2000 and guidelines of Central Pollution Control Board towards plastic disposal," he said.

The Heads of Departments should take efforts to create awareness about the harm caused by single use plastic to the environment and on the importance ofadopting sustainable environmental practices, Kumar added. (PTI)