Home Minister Amit Shah on Thursday asked women to carry cloth bags instead of plastic bags for shopping, PTI reported. Shah added that though carrying cloth bags may look old-fashioned, it will help protect the environment.

The home minister said that the Centre is thinking of taking strong measures to stop the production of single-use plastic. The use of plastic is a hindrance to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “Swacch Bharat” campaign, Shah added. He was addressing people at an event organised by the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation.

“That is why our prime minister, in his Independence Day speech, urged the citizens to take up a movement against plastic from October 2 [Mahatma Gandhi’s birth anniversary],” Shah said. “I urge all the women to stop the use of plastic bags while going out for shopping. Instead, they can carry a cloth bag, which would last for 10 years.”

Before his speech, Shah also planted a tree and flagged off eight electric-powered city buses. He also inaugurated an automated battery charging and swapping station for the buses.

“With PM Modi’s efforts to tackle climate change, India is now guiding the world in solar energy following the formation of the International Solar Alliance,” Shah said. “Our Vedas and Upanishads termed the earth as our mother. And Modiji is working to stop the exploitation of our Mother Earth.”

On Independence Day and again on Sunday in his “Mann ki Baat” programme, Modi had called for a new mass movement against the use of single-use plastic from October 2. The prime minister asked people to ensure proper collection and storage of plastic to protect the environment.