India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi vowed to ban single-use plastics in his Independence Day speech in Delhi on Thursday.
Modi called on Indians to make an effort to rid their country of plastic waste and raised the possibility of “strong first steps towards bidding adieu to single-use plastic on October 2.”
About 70% of the plastic the country consumes is simply discarded and there is no processing of waste in most Indian cities, according to the Ministry of Environment’s Central Pollution Control Board.
As a result the world’s largest democracy is home to vast trash mountains that loom over the outskirts of major cities, and huge quantities of plastic end up in the water by way of the Ganges. The river is second only to China’s Yangtze in the amount of plastic it contributes to the world’s oceans, according to a 2017 study.
Modi appealed to the people to help in his bid to address the growing problem.
“If you see single-use plastic at home or on the road, help the municipal authorities in your towns and villages to clean it up,” he said.
“Let’s make India free of single-use plastic, shall we?
Modi also called on business people to support the move.
“I urge the start-up founders, technicians and industrialists to find ways to recycle plastic,” he said.
“Single-use plastic is the root cause of many of our problems – but the solution has to come from within, from us.”
Banning the use of single use-plastics could be an important step in dealing with the gargantuan issue.
One famous trash mountain in the east of New Delhi, known as Ghazipur, is reportedly just months away from rising higher than the Taj Mahal, which stands at 73 meters (240 feet) tall.
This is not the first time that Modi has promised to tackle the issue of plastic waste. In June 2018 he called for a crackdown on plastic pollution and said that India would eliminate single use plastic by 2022.
CNN’s Akanksha Sharma contributed to this report.