SUBJECT :Mopungchuket village under Mokokchung district has banned single-use plastic carry bags as part of their campaign to make the village plastic-free. 

May 1, 2019: Mopungchuket village under Mokokchung district has banned single-use plastic carry bags as part of their campaign to make the village plastic-free. The Aotemolung Medemsanger Putu Menden of Mopungchuket, which is the traditional supreme authority in the village, has decreed that the ban would come into effect May 1, 2019.

In a press statement released by the village Putu Menden today, it was stated that all single-use plastic carry bags shall be banned in Mopungchuket village with effect from May 1, 2019, as resolved at the public meeting held on March 10.

“This ban is being enforced as part of our continued effort and commitment to make Mopungchuket a plastic-free village,” the Putu Menden said in the press note that was appended by three of its elders.

They also requested visitors and travelers passing through the village to “respect our cause.” The Putu Menden also thanked the Nagaland State Government for selecting Mopungchuket as a model village for “compliant of Solid Waste Management Rules 2016.”

Years of advocacy

The ban on plastic carry bags took more than six years of advocacy by conscientious citizens and organizations of the village to come to fruition.

The first formal dialogue on the idea of banning single-use plastic bags and Styrofoam/thermocol was made during a workshop in the village organized by the Mopungchuket Community Tourism Society in 2013. The resource persons for that workshop were RP Gurung, CEO of Ecotourism and Conservation Society of Sikkim, K Bhutia, Director of Kanchendzongpa Conservation Committee Sikkim and Amba Jamir, Consultant and Policy Analyst and SDFN who trained stakeholders in the village on ‘Strategic Planning and Capacity Building on Community Based Tourism’ where the menace of plastic pollution was highlighted as a major deterrent to achieve the village’s tourism goals.

Four years later, in 2017, the Youth Ministry of Mopungchuket Baptist Church, in commemoration of its centenary (1917-2017), resolved to initiate ‘Plastic Free Mopungchuket Project’ and pursued it on a missional perspective. Several awareness campaigns and sensitization programs were conducted by the Youth Ministry over the last two years supported by the Village Council and The Greensight Project.

Consequently, on March 10 of 2019, the Aotemolung Medemsanger Putu Menden called for a public meeting on sanitation and cleanliness wherein the Youth Ministry proposed to, among other agendas, ban single-use plastic carry bags in the village. The villagers agreed to it and resolved to ban all single-use plastic bags, to be effective from the month of May 2019. Based on the resolution, the Putu Menden formally decreed the ban on April 29.

Some of the other resolutions adopted at the March 10 meeting included maintaining of compost pits by every household in the village, engaging SHGs and volunteers to mass produce paper bags as an alternative to plastic bags, collection of nominal fee from each household to manage door to door waste collection, management and disposal, waste segregation at source, and segregation of plastic waste which will be stocked for recycling and outsourcing. The remaining waste is to be disposed at MMC dump yard which is located about 25 km away from the village.

On the ban on plastic bags and its challenges, Youth Pastor of Mopungchuket, Yanger Pongen, said that the biggest challenge was that plastic bags are not banned in Mokokchung town and therefore, the banned bags could find ways into the village.

“Rampant use of plastic bags in the town (Mokokchung) is beyond our control but we will continue to take measures to stop its use in the village,” said the Youth Pastor.