Plastic carrybags are back in Delhi markets despite a ban.
Though the government maintains the material is banned in the Capital, the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC), which has the mandate to implement the ban, says it cannot really take action against the offenders.
In November last year, the Delhi government banned plastic carrrybags. The plastic manufacturers moved the high court and challenged the ban.
"The hearing in the case continues. The fact of the matter is that the court never stayed the ban. It's very much in force. So, technically we can prosecute the offenders. But during a recent hearing, the high court verbally asked us not to take action for now," a DPCC official said.
"We're aware of those manufacturing, distributing and using these bags. It's violating the law because the court has not issued any written orders of stay on the ban. We have stopped our operations for now only to not annoy the court. But it is no licence for people to violate the ban," said a senior official of the Delhi environment department, which issued the ban notification.
"The court only asked us not to prosecute people for now. It never said people could violate the ban. The verbal order has created confusion in some quarters. The next hearing is slated for February 8. We hope some clarity emerges then. If there are no written orders even then, we will resume our crackdown against those violating the ban," he said.
The punishment for violation is imprisonment of up to seven years and/or a fine of R1 lakh.
During their drives, as many as 25 teams of the environment department and the DPCC visited about 500 shops in malls and hotels twice in a week and collected samples. The government had then claimed that the ban was near total in posh areas.
The government had planned to target big markets such as those in South Extension and Lajpat Nagar followed by small traders. Those running tea shops and small kiosks besides vegetable vendors were to be covered in the last phase.
"We have roped in an additional solicitor general to present our case. We started the process of ban only on the court's intervention. We're hopeful of an order in favour of the ban," the official said.