NGT bans use of plastic bags of less than 50 microns in Delhi
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Thursday banned plastic bags thinner than an average human hair in the capital, stepping in to eliminate the most common shopping accessory that clogs sewers, pollutes the environment and even kills cattle.
In an interim order, a bench headed by NGT chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar also slapped a fine of Rs 5,000 on anyone found in possession of non-biodegradable plastic bags less than 50 microns, which is the thickness of a human hair.
Microns, short for micromillimetre, is the global measurement unit for thickness of plastic bags. The thinner the bag, the more harmful they are to the environment.
The green court directed the Delhi government to seize the banned bags within a week.
However, implementing the NGT order could be a tough job as a similar ban by the Centre last year failed to make stop the use of such bags.
Officials and manufacturers say the banned bags are made by unregistered units which find many takers because of their cheaper products.
According to manufacturers, the market share of thin bags is not more than 25%.
Plastic waste have been identified as one of the major source of environmental pollution as they don’t decay naturally. Besides choking drains, water-bodies and adding to the load of the already-exhausted landfill sites, there are instances of cattle eating and dying after choking on plastic bags.
“Most of the garbage bags used at homes are above 50 microns,” said Bharati Chaturvedi, the director of Chintan Environmental Research and Action Group.
The NGT mandated the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) to implement this ban with help from the municipal corporations, which are in charge of waste management.
Officials said the civic bodies will start an awareness drive through advertisements.
The Plastic Manufacturing Association, part of the petitoner All India Plastic Industries’ Associations, welcomed the ban.
“The use and manufacturing... is already banned under the Plastic Management Handling Rules 2016. These bags have zero reusable value and that’s why environmentalists were insisting upon ending its use,” said Rajesh Mittal, a member of PMA.
The green court also asked the AAP government and the DPCC to file an affidavit on steps taken to implement the ban.
Last month too the NGT criticised the Delhi government over rampant use of plastic in the national capital despite the 2016 ban.
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