Meghalaya: It’s ‘Go Green’, ‘Go Pla-Iew’ in Nongthymmai; war against plastic rages on

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SHILLONG | JUNE 06, 2020:

"Pla Iew" or a cloth bag – which has almost lost its significance due to the onslaught of plastic bags, is gradually coming back in style as citizens begin to understand its value and role in combating the menace of plastic, which has caused serious damage to the environment.

In Meghalaya, this crusade against plastic started years ago but it gained momentum last year with the active involvement of all stakeholders as they push and motivate citizens to "go back to your roots", which implies – Make use of your traditional carry bags or "Pla Iew" as they are much more convenient, spacious and washable and more importantly, they pose no threat to the environment.

On the occasion of World Environment Day on June 5, programmes and activities like tree plantation and the likes were being carried out by the government, several organisations and concerned individuals.

In Nongthymmai constituency, this day gained significance after a number of women, who have been working hard to make these cloth bags, finally put up their products for sale — a highlight on the importance of both the environment and self employment.

These bags were made during the lockdown period by a group of women in the constituency who received the cloth and sewing machines from Congress MLA of Nongthymmai Charles Pyngrope to produce "Pla Iew". These would then be distributed to the various localities in the constituency. The target was to produce 15,000 Pla-Iew.

The objective of this initiative was to encourage women to be self-dependent and to become game-changers in this crusade against plastic.

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Pyngrope, who has always advocated against plastic use said, "I had given the sewing machines under SRWP scheme and told them (women) to stitch these bags. If I am buying a bag for Rs 30 from the primary seller, then these women can earn three thousand for a hundred bags and during lockdown, it will be of great help to them."

He also explained the importance of marketing and assured that these stitched bags will be given to the various organisations to sell it to the people. "We will try and make around 15,000 bags for Nongthymmai constituency and I will make sure that these bags are being marketed well," he said.

Women of Nongthymmai with their stitched 'Pla Iew'

"This way we are not only protecting the environment but also providing employment and income for people," Pyngrope added.

Pointing out that if this is replicated by all the sixty MLAs in their constituencies, the impact would be far reaching, the senior Congress leader said, "If you take the 33 lakh population of Meghalaya and divide that by four, then we are looking at 83, 500 households roughly and if every constituency stitch 50,000 bags each then that would make 9 lakh bags which means less plastics in Meghalaya".

Urging people to use Pla- Iew while going to markets, he reasoned, "Smaller bags can also be stitched for laptops and instead of carrying expensive Gucci bags to office, one can also carry indigenously stitched bags".

"If everybody uses a cloth bag, plastics will go away; every time you go to the market or office, carry your own cloth bag; that is the message I want to give" he added.