Poll panel asks parties to avoid use of plastics for election material


New Delhi : The Election Commission Thursday asked political parties and candidates to avoid the use of plastics to prepare posters, banners and other election material during campaigning as plastics are hazardous to the environment.

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“The political parties and candidates should try to avoid the use of plastic/polythene for preparation of posters, banners in the interest of environmental protection,” the Election Commission (EC) has said in its set of guidelines distributed to political parties.

Several political parties welcomed the step. Noted animal rights activist and environmentalist Maneka Gandhi, an MP, hailed the poll panel’s directive and urged the commission to ban the use of animal symbols as well.

“I agree with it completely. And they (Election Commission) should also stop parties and candidates from using animal symbols,” Maneka Gandhi, who used to be India’s environment minister, told IANS.

The Congress party said it was an eco-friendly move and good for both public health and the environment.

“Certainly the party has to shell out more money for campaigning material as plastic flags, posters and other campaigning material come at cheaper rates. But keeping in mind its health hazards it is a commendable decision,” said Congress spokesman Shakeel Ahamad.

The commission’s directive comes at a time when various state governments have banned the use of plastic bags.

After Maharashtra and Himachal Pradesh, the Delhi government ordered a complete ban Jan 7 on the use, sale and storage of all kinds of plastic bags. Since then several shops and commercial enterprises in the capital have given up use of plastic bags and have moved to eco-friendly paper and cloth bags instead.

There are no reliable figures on plastic bag use, but environmentalists say before the ban, more than 10 million were used in the capital every day.

Besides the order on plastics, the poll panel has issued a slew of directives including prohibiting the transmission of objectionable text messages on mobile phones and a ban on religious places like temples, mosques, churches or other places of worship as forum for election propaganda.

The police have been instructed to take action against those forwarding lewd or objectionable text messages during the campaign period.