At Chennai Central last week. Hundreds of bales of Bauhinia leaves coming from central India, as substitutes because of the plastic ban. Are forests far away prepared for this huge demand? Most unlikely.
The massive jump in demand for these leaves, from a far away (wealthier) place, is undoubtedly going to impact 1000s of mature trees in central India that will be stripped. Before banning, why didn’t we think of local alternatives?
This is going to cause an ecological disaster elsewhere, and a huge lost economic opportunity within Tamil Nadu. It is how the worst of globalisation works, regardless of whether between countries or within them, across places with differing priorities and levels of prosperity.
And the fact that TN can import these leaves at such a scale most likely means we are paying more for them than locals can/will, which then means locals will probably shift to….cheap plastic. We will have simply shifted the problem elsewhere. (Sound familiar?)
Worst of all: this is the kind of anticipatory story Tamil news media/ journalists should have done months ago, and provoked discussions at least among the tiny fraction of people who care. Instead all we got were celebrations of the plastic ban. At least now, perhaps?