Going green in more than one way for 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the Election Commission has decided to exercise its franchise in favour of bio-degradable publicity material, besides checking the sound pollution during the rallies in run up to May 19 elections. While repeatedly persuading the political parties and candidates to go for environment-friendly publicity material, the poll panel has also appointed the nodal officers — especially to measure the sound pollution levels during the rallies. Besides, the poll panel has also requested the oil companies to use the eco-friendly material for putting up the advertisements in the premises of their petrol pumps. That was not all! The election panel would also shin the use of disposable glasses to be used for the purpose of drinking water on the voting day at over 23,000 polling booths across the State. “We have held at least five meetings with the representatives of the political parties particularly to sensitise them regarding using the eco-friendly publicity materials. Besides, the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) is also doing its bit by doing the same,” said Punjab Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Dr S Karuna Raju. Dr Raju told The Pioneer that as many as 15 nodal officers, of the level of SDO (Sub-Divisional Officers), have been appointed who are measuring the levels of sound pollution during the events. “Two cases have come to light, one each in Amritsar and Ludhiana, where the prescribed limit for the sound pollution levels have been violated. We have informed the concerned Deputy Commissioners to issue notice to the organisers,” said Dr Raju adding, pointing that further details would reveal regarding which parties or the candidates the events were related to. Dr Raju further informed that he was also holding meetings with the oil companies requesting them to use eco-friendly material for the “huge ads they out on display in their petrol pump premises. Just image how much damage this large quantity of plastic used for banners and posters would do to the environment”.
“We have taken another huge initiative towards the environment. For more than 23,000 polling booths in the State, we would avoid the use of disposable plastic glasses for the purpose of drinking water,” he said adding that he had a video-conferencing regarding the same with the assistant returning officers recently. The state electoral officer had recently appealed to all the political parties to use eco-friendly material for campaigning during the Lok Sabha election asking the parties not to use single-use plastic material as it causes adverse impact on human health and environment. He said that the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change had approached the Commission with the request to direct political parties to use eco-friendly material. “A lot of the campaigning material, including posters, cut-outs, hoardings, banners, political advertisements and others, are made of plastic and, after the elections, these electioneering material becomes waste,” Dr Raju said while adding that a number of alternatives like compostable bags, natural fabrics, recycled paper and other material could be used during the campaign. In fact, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has also taken a serious note of the impact of usage of PVC flex boards and other harmful material being used by the candidates during the elections after a public interest litigation was filed by a city-based RTI activist Rohit Sabharwal. The High Court has issued notice of motion to the Union Environment Ministry, the Election Commission of India, Punjab Chief Election Officer, the Central Pollution Control Board and the Punjab Pollution Control Board, while fixing September 10 as the next date of hearing.