The state government’s decision to ban plastic bags as well as several plastic-made items like disposable spoons, containers and flex materials, will include your participation, too. The government plans to fine citizens if they use banned items in the future. However, the decision to fine citizens for carrying or storing such items will be taken after it gets a cabinet nod.
The state environment department plans to issue a notification by this month-end, announcing the ban and detailing the items covered under the ban. For now, the state government has asked the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) to not renew licences of manufacturing units of plastic bags after March.
“We want to make violation of the ban an offence for everyone. Even common citizens will be held responsible for violation and thus we are intending to penalise them for the same. Only then can the ban be implemented effectively. However, the final decision is to be taken by the state cabinet,” said a senior official from environment department, privy to the development.
“We have in-principle decided not to renew licences of plastic bag manufacturing units after March. The decision was taken considering the ban to be imposed by the state government from March. However, manufacturing units related to exports have been exempted from the decision,” Dr P Anbalagan, member secretary, MPCB.
MPCB is the licensing authority of all such units.
According to existing plans, all the local bodies would be implementing authority of the ban in general while MPCB will be monitoring implementation of the ban for plastic manufacturing units.
Meanwhile, representatives of the hotels industry said the government needs to come out with alternatives if it is banning disposable plastic containers as the industry would be badly affected with the move. However, environmentalists said it is a necessary step, but needs to be implemented by an independent agency.
Adarsh Shetty, president, Indian Hotels and Restaurants Association (AHAR), said, “If at all the government bans disposable one-time use plastic containers and other items, then they also need to come up with alternatives as well, else it would affect the hotel industry.’’
“Containers made up of non-disposable plastic are available in the market, but are expensive, thus need to be subsidised in case of a ban on plastic containers,” Shetty said. AHAR has 8,000 members alone in Mumbai and is also connected with 64 various associations across the state.
Afroz Shah, a city-based lawyer lauded by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi for cleanliness drive initiated by him at Versova beach in Mumbai, said although it is a welcome move; it seems to be a piecemeal legislation. “We need to have a comprehensive act for effective ban. Most importantly, enforcement of such a ban cannot be done properly by the municipal corporation like BMC as it is already over-burdened. There must be some independent agency for its implementation,” Shah said.
Around 80% of the waste found on beach includes one-time use containers and other items made of Styrofoam which is extremely dangerous for marine life, he said.