The Delhi government has finally notified a blanket ban on plastic bags in 2009.
According to the notification, “use, storage and sale” of plastic bags of any kind or thickness, in all places where you get the bags after shopping, are banned. Anyone guilty of breaking the ban faces a maximum penalty of Rs 1 lakh or five years’ imprisonment or both, says the Environment Protection Act.
All staff of the health and environment department and bodies under them, food and supplies officers and sub-divisional magistrates are empowered to enforce the ban.
Municipal health officers of NDMC and MCD can also implement the ban. The Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) will be coordinating the implementation exercise, like lodging complaints.
DPCC has formed a special inspection team for this purpose. The team will visit manufacturing and collecting units and initiate punishment for violators. “To begin with, we will look at all the industrial units. If they are in conforming areas, we may shut them down.... If they are in non-conforming areas then we will complain to appropriate authorities,” said Dr A.K. Ambasht, DPCC member secretary.
The ban comes after a four-year legal battle at Delhi High Court over a PIL seeking the ban, and almost a year after a court-appointed committee recommended it. The Delhi government has widened the scope of the ban. “We have included four-star hotels under the purview of the ban. While the panel had suggested a minimum size of bags to be allowed, we have banned all sizes,” a senior officer said.
However, in places other than shopping outlets, bags made of “bio-degradable” plastic with a thickness of 40 microns and above, has been allowed. But petitioner Vinod Jain said such bags are not made in India as they are very expensive.