Shown photographs of plastic garbage surgically removed from urban cows, a visibly angry Chief Justice of India on Tuesday slammed the lack of implementation of environmental laws in the country, saying he would ask the officials to put them up in their drawing rooms as a reminder of their duties.
The observations came on a public interest litigation petition filed by NGO Karuna Society of Animals. The petition included photographs of surgeries conducted on cows and even wild animals to extract plastic garbage blocking their insides.
“In some cases, plastic garbage weighing up to 52 kg was removed from cows. Plastic was removed even from wild animals, indicating that even our forest areas are being overrun by plastic waste,” submitted senior advocate Shyam Divan, appearing for the NGO.
He said animals, unable to reach the food wrapped in plastic bags, consume the whole. Mr. Divan said the problem affects the Constitutional right to life as the plastic ingested by these cows, pass on to the milk, and possibly into the digestive system of humans.
‘Ban plastic bags’
When the Bench sought a solution, Mr. Divan suggested that the Centre issue directions under Section 5 of the Environment Pollution Act, prohibiting the manufacture, sale, use and indiscriminate disposal of plastic bags. He said this could even be dovetailed with the Prime Minister’s Swachh Bharat Abhiyan.
Mr. Divan suggested that the government phase out the open garbage disposal system and receptacles, and instead opt for door-to-door collection after segregation. Finally, the senior advocate stressed the need for the State governments to implement local plastic disposal laws.
This prompted the CJI to ask: “Has one State government shown sympathy to these poor animals till now? These photographs are sickening.”
“Is there any seriousness on the part of the State governments to implement laws? I will call the principal secretaries of all the States, show them the photos and ask them to put them up in their drawing rooms,” Justice Dattu said.
“Fifty kg of plastic! Do you know the pain the cow must have undergone even as humans like you sit in air-conditioned rooms, saying you have made laws. How much does it cost you to print a statute… This is extreme cruelty to animals,” the CJI said.