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On World Environment Day, Indians Wage War on Plastic 

India hosts World Environment Day; numerous environmental gatherings and clean up campaigns take place 

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Environmental activists say many rivers across India, especially the Yamuna that flows through New Delhi, have become dirtier as the country's economy develops, with city sewage, farming pesticides and industrial effluents freely flowing into waterways despite laws against polluting.

India's Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), which monitors pollution, in its 2015 report’, said that as many as 60 Indian cities generate about 4,059 tonnes of plastic waste per day.

But for some, plastic bottles and other trash that floats down the Yamuna, is actually the only means of earning a living. Garbage collectors, who live in makeshift huts around the polluted river, spend hours picking bottles, pieces of metal, and other trash, out of the river so they can recycle it to make some money.

Some experts say many Indians are still not aware of how harmful single-use plastics can be for the environment.

"All these products which we use because of convenience take… many, many hundreds of years to dispose-off," says Chitra Mukherjee, an environmental expert who runs a research and action group called Chintan in New Delhi. "Like a plastic throwaway will probably take you 500 years."

Harsh Vardhan, the Indian Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, says "When the society will demand a jute bag instead, or take a jute bag with them when they leave their homes (to shop), then automatically the movement of these plastic bags will die its own death."

Amardeep Bardhan, co-founder of Prakritii, a firm manufacturing eco-friendly dinnerware says the market for eco-friendly products is growing in India.

Some high-end restaurants in the city are doing away with plastic straws and replacing them with environment-friendly paper straws.

With more than 15 million people, New Delhi and its surrounding cities produce an estimated 17,000 tons of trash daily, according to Indian officials and environmentalists.

This year, 5 June will see numerous official environmental gatherings across India, clean up campaigns along the Yamuna and food courts in malls agreeing to forgo plastic plateware for one day.

(With inputs from AP)

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