India announced an ambitious pledge to eliminate all single-use plastic in the country by 2022. The initiative comes at a time when global campaigns against plastic pollution are taking place in 60 nations around the world.
"The choices that we make today will define our collective future," said Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a statement Tuesday. "The choices may not be easy. But through awareness, technology, and a genuine global partnership, I am sure we can make the right choices. Let us all join together to beat plastic pollution and make this planet a better place to live."
Along with the pledge, India has also announced launching a national marine litter action campaign to prevent littering its 7,500km of coastline, and a program to measure how much plastic enters India’s coastal waters. The South Asian country will also pledge to make 100 national touristic monuments litter-free, including the renowned Taj Mahal.
"Environmental degradation hurts the poor and vulnerable the most," Modi said. "It is the duty of each one of us to ensure that material prosperity does not compromise our environment."
The news coincides with the World Environment Day which was marked worldwide Tuesday. Marking this year's theme, 'Beat Plastic Pollution,' the U.N. issued a report detailing the efforts of countries around the world to combat plastic pollution, such as Sri Lanka’s ban on styrofoam and Kenya’s ban on plastic bags.
According to a study, each year, nearly 8 million metric tons of plastic is dumped in the ocean, and by 2050, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish, the Time Magazine reported.
Last week, a whale choked to death in southern Thailand, after swallowing nearly 80 plastic bags despite several rescue efforts that lasted a span of five days.
In 2014, India's right-wing government pledged to bring electricity to the almost 20,000 villages lacking power, which he claimed he achieved. But investigations led by some local media outlets proved otherwise.
Recently, the Modi government has come under fire from human rights advocates for building hype with social media campaigns to gain popularity to highlight gains that the government hasn't fully achieved, ahead of the 2019 general elections.