On a shopping binge? Make sure you carry along a bag, as the popular plastic bag is soon going to disappear from markets and local shopping centres. This is, if the Delhi High Court has its way.
On Thursday the court directed the Delhi government to issue a notification banning use of plastic bags of any micron in “main markets and local shopping centres” also apart from hotels, hospitals and malls where use of such bags are already forbidden.
A Bench of Justices TS Thakur and Siddharth Mridul gave the direction while disposing of a four-year-old PIL filed by environment activist VK Jain of NGO Tapas seeking a total ban on plastic bags. Jain contended they were choking drains and leading to collection of dirty water and consequently creating breeding grounds for several diseases. The PIL also said landfill sites packed with a mixture of non-biodegradable and toxic waste contaminated water table.
The Bench has also made provisions to make use of plastic bags in other places expensive. This was by asking the government to fix the minimum thickness of plastic bags to 40 microns in place of currently stipulated 20 micron.
Most of the court’s directions were recommendations of the committee it appointed led by Central Pollution Control Board Chairman JM Mauskar, Delhi Pollution Control Committee Chairman JK Dadoo and former Delhi High court judge RC Chopra which undertook a study on the impact of plastic bags on environment. The committee had said apart from making 40 microns more costly and discourage indiscriminate use among vendors, it would also improve retrieval and recycling, as rag pickers would find it remunerative and therefore they would not left behind in trash bins and land fill land sites.
The Bench also directed the government, Pollution Control Committee of Delhi and civic agencies to take immediate steps for closure of around 2,000 unlicensed recycling units operating from non-confirming areas, which use unsound methods for recycling of plastic bags.
The court-appointed committee had said these illegal units adopt “crude methods of recycling plastic waste” using chemical additives which emit toxic gas injurious to health. But the committee described plastic bags as “highly economical and popular” among the public and it was not possible to put a blanket ban on its use in the Capital.
Jain had questioned the viability of the clause (3) of Delhi Degradable Plastic Bag (manufacture, sale and usage) and garbage (control) Act 2000 which prohibits manufacture, sale or use of plastic bags other than degradable plastic bags.