The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is all geared up to implement the new notification on restricting use of plastic, but can it do it effectively?
From April 4, the BMC will be implementing provisions of a new notification issued by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) to ban thin plastic bags and discourage the use of all kinds of plastic bags.
Under the new notification, issued on February 4, 2011, by the Centre, retailers will have to charge customers while giving plastic carry bags. The civic body is also contemplating introducing a fine up to Rs 10,000 for violation of these norms.
Experts point out that previous bans on plastic carry bags have not worked due to bad implementation. The bags with the thickness of 20 microns or less were banned in 2001 and 50 microns were banned after the 26/7 deluge in 2005.
“There have been guidelines issued previously to curb the plastic menace but no concrete results have been achieved due to poor implementation by authorities. This new notification will also be of no help if not executed properly,” said Radheshyam Sayani, an environmentalist working for a plastic-free Mithi river.
“The new rules are not very strong and I doubt whether it will be implemented 100%,” said another environmentalist Elsie Gabriel. “The new notification is riddled with loopholes and by charging a minimum cost for plastic bags, people are not going to be deterred from buying it.”
The consumers welcomed the move but have their own doubts. “Paying for a plastic bag will definitely reduce its usage. It’s a good move, but who will check if the retailer is adhering to it or not,” said Amol Naik, a retired schoolteacher.
BMC officials say that once the byelaws to implement the notification are ready they will make sure the machinery needed to implement it effectively will be set up.
“The current flying squads will be retained and a ward level awareness drive will be undertaken to let people know of the new rules,” said a civic official from the licence department. Currently, the BMC has flying squads that go around the city and seize thin plastic bags.