Green protocol not being followed in Odisha local body polls: Activists

Candidates used non-biodegradable election materials such as flex posters and also nailed campaign materials to trees, claim activists

By Hrusikesh Mohanty
Published: Monday 21 March 2022
Election posters nailed to trees in Odisha. Photo: Hrusikesh Mohanty
Election posters nailed to trees in Odisha. Photo: Hrusikesh Mohanty Election posters nailed to trees in Odisha. Photo: Hrusikesh Mohanty

Green activists in Odisha have expressed concern over the lack of adherence to green protocol by political parties and candidates contesting in the forthcoming elections for urban local bodies and municipal corporations across the state.

Political parties and their nominees are stipulated to use only eco-friendly campaign materials like boards, cut-outs, banners, flags, etc, which can be recycled, according to green protocol.

Materials like plastic, polyvinyl chloride and polythene should not be used during canvassing, Sudhir Rout, an educationist-cum green activist, said.

The elections for 106 urban local bodies (ULB) and three municipal corporations — Bhubaneswar, Berhampur and Cuttack — are slated to be held on March 24, 2022.

“In the last several elections, we had seen that contesting candidates and different political parties used several non-biodegradable campaigning materials during their electioneering. This practice caused harm to the environment,” Rout, the director of Aryabhatta Foundation, an organisation that works for raising awareness on protecting the environment, said.

It was seen that candidates used non-biodegradable election materials such as flex posters in various urban areas for their election campaign this time, said Rout. “We appealed to all candidates and political parties to follow green protocol during the canvassing,” he added.

The environmental activists have also urged the chief electoral officer of the state to ensure the protocol in polling stations, counting centres and other election offices.

The Odisha government banned the use, transport, stock and manufacture of single-use plastic materials in the state from October 2, 2019.

Meanwhile, botanists alleged the contesting candidates in different Odisha towns used trees by nailing campaign materials on them.

“It was seen that contenders for different posts, including mayors and chairpersons of ULBs and municipal corporations, nailed their election materials like flex boards and cut-outs and flags onto trees,” BB Panda, former botany professor at Berhampur University, said.

Panda said the trees would face premature death due to nailing of cut-outs and banners. The civic administrations are needed to take drastic steps to ensure to make the trees nail-free, especially during poll-time, added Panda.

“We urged candidates to protect roadside trees, follow green protocols and candidates to spell out their agenda on protection of the environment in the urban areas after being elected,” SN Patra, president, Odisha Environment Society, said.

This was urgently needed due to the degradation of the environment, particularly in urban areas in the wake of climate change, he said. Much of the impact on the environment in urban areas was due to the increase of concrete jungle and shrinkage of greenery, Patra said.

The activists also alleged the candidates in various municipal corporations violated norms for sound pollution by using high volume speakers on their campaign vehicles.

The state pollution control board should take note of the norm violations and serve notice to the violators, Ranjan Mohanty, coordinator, Odisha Election Watch, said. A noise level up to 65 decibels is permissible during poll campaigns, sources said.

A senior police officer said political parties were using mikes after taking permission from the police.

Ramesh Chandra Chaupatnaik, a senior leader and former member of legislative assembly of the ruling Biju Janata Dal said his party did not use plastic flags during campaigning.

“We used party flags made from cotton. We strictly follow the model code of conduct and instructions of the election commission during electioneering for civic bodies,” he added.  

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