The local election has recently taken place and the entire Nepal is busy enumerating the several votes and anticipating/celebrating the results. Probably, you are reading this in the room where the T.V. is on and the channel verbally talks about the updates, of course, the letters dancing on the screen with the flickering tag of ‘FLASH NEWS’.
Now, let’s come out of the room. Take a ticket to travel back on the day of the election or during the period of it. On 13th May, we filled that one ballot paper to exercise our right to vote and before that, many papers explaining the manifesto of the candidates reached our homes while various; covered the road.
In this election, a total of 17,733,723 Nepalese were rolled as voters. About 20 million ballot papers for the voters were printed by Janak Education Materials Center Ltd.
So, what happens to the ballot papers after we cast the votes?
As soon as the voting time ends, the ballot boxes are carried to the counting stations. The validity of the ballot papers is checked. The counting officers take the ballot papers and announce the votes. After the results, the ballot papers are kept for a specific period as there is a requirement in the law to keep them if there comes a need for a recount. Only after that, the destruction of ballot papers takes place in such a way that the symbols and the letters can’t be recognized. And sadly, incineration still tops the list for the disposal of the ballot papers.
Does this practice of burning ballot paper give justice to the environment?
The answer is ‘A Big No‘.
We understand the importance of secrecy for the electoral process but don’t understand the process costing the environment clearly from it when there are still options for better disposal?
The papers can be shredded and recycled into raw papers rather than burned. This not only reduces the chance of wiping out the trees but also helps the air from the dust of the ashes. Many companies are working in different corners of the world that take part in the document shredding which promotes environmental sustainability. These companies make sure the shredded papers get a new life and can be consumed safely.
So, is it possible in our country?
Is it impossible to dispose of the ballot papers without burning them in a country where social ventures for environmental sustainability like Doko Recycles, Khali Sisi, etc. exist? This is an open question at the moment.
If we voters; can bring the change in the way we vote Why can’t the Election Commission change the way the ballot papers are disposed of and set an example for the generations to come?