Plastic bags should not be banned, Environment minister Jairam Ramesh said told Lok Sabha, months after Delhi government banned plastic bags in the city.
Almost all Himalayan states have banned use of plastic bags. In states like Himachal Pradesh and Uttrakhand heavy fine is imposed on citizens using plastic bags and people are advised to use paper or jute bags.
But, the environment minister said banning plastic bags results in more cutting of trees as people switch to paper bags, a by-product of wood. In fact, plastic bags were introduced about 25 years ago to save Indian forests by reducing consumption of paper.
“Banning plastic bags is a extreme step,” Ramesh said, while replying to a question on efficacy of plastic bags.
“Most states have banned plastic bags because municipal bodies had failed to deal with them,” the minister said.
The environment minister said plastic bag with certain minimum thickness are not bad for environment, a view echoed by the plastic bag industry.
“Only recycled or coloured plastic bags are bad for environment and human health,” he said. The minister also said bio-degradable plastic bags are available in the market and its cost is very high.