The Allahabad High Court has issued notices to the Election Commission of India (ECI) and others over the brazen use of plastic canvassing material during the ongoing Uttar Pradesh assembly elections.
The orders were passed on Thursday on a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) petition filed by a Ghaziabad resident, Akash Vashisht, regarding the use of plastic in the UP polls and unplanned disposal thereafter, which caused environmental hazard.
The notices have also been issued to the Uttar Pradesh government; UP Chief Electoral Officer (CEO); the ministry of environment, forests and climate change; the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and the UP Pollution Control Board (UPPCB).
The petitioner had sought an interim stay on the manufacture and use of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and other chlorinated plastic-based advertising and publicity items viz. banners, hoardings, flex, signage and flags during the 2022 UP assembly polls.
Taking stern cognisance of the issue highlighted in the PIL, the court observed it was a serious matter and the gravity of the situation was not limited to merely elections. The court underlined there was a need to curb the use of such material after polls too.
The petitioner had contended that plastic publicity materials were being widely used in the UP polls, which would then be discarded in the open post-elections. Besides, the use of plastic was violative of the provisions contained in the Environment Protection Act 1986.
Meanwhile, the defendants have been given three weeks to reply on the notices served thereon.
According to the ECI, there are more than 150 million registered voters in UP, which has the country’s highest assembly constituencies numbering 403.
UP assembly elections are scheduled in seven rounds in Feb and March 2022 viz. Feb 10, 14, 20, 23, 27 and March 3 and 7. The counting of votes will be done on March 10. The first phase of the polling was held on Thursday in 58 Western UP constituencies spread across 11 districts.