Faced with widespread disregard of its ban on plastic bags, the Delhi government reiterated its order on Wednesday and warned violators that they faced punishment.
The government had banned plastic bags from markets and local shopping centres on Jan 7. However, shopkeepers continue to pack their merchandise in plastic bags.
"It has been brought to our notice that plastic bags are still used in main markets, local shopping centres and in major branded outlets/chain of stores," said a statement from the government's environment department.
"This is on the pretext that those bags are more than 40 microns thick or that the bags are bio-degradable or compostable."
But, the statement reiterated, "these are in total violation of Government of Delhi's notification dated 07.01.2009 wherein it clearly states that sale, use or storage of all kinds of plastic bags shall be forbidden in the notified places. Hence, it is clarified to all dispensers/users of plastic bags that no plastic bags can be used in main markets and local shopping centres and in major branded outlets/chain of stores. Only jute, cloth or recycled paper bags are to be used."
There are specialised areas such as hospitals where plastic bags can be used, but the statement pointed out that these must be biodegradable and "complying to prescribed IS:BIS:17088 standards".
Noting that "many firms are marketing degradable bags which are not permitted to be used," the statement warned: "Violators are punishable under section 19 of Environment Protection Act, 1986".