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₹5,000 fine on plastic pales against environmental cost, says Aaditya Thackeray

Doing good for our planet and our society is politics for me, says the Shiv Sena leader, a day before the plastic ban comes into effect.

mumbai Updated: Jun 22, 2018 12:22 IST
Swapnil Rawal
Swapnil Rawal
Hindustan Times
Mumbai,plastic ban,Aaditya Thackeray
Aaditya Thackeray (Hindustan Times)

As the state gears up to enforce plastic ban from Sunday, Shiv Sena leader Aaditya Thackeray has argued that a steep fine of ₹5,000 mostly targets manufacturers. In an interview with HT, the young Thackeray, who was at the forefront of the plastic ban narrative, talks about what prompted him to take up the issue and his party’s pro-environment stance. Here are the excerpts.

What prompted you to come up with the idea of plastic ban?

The state environment minister (Ramdas Kadam) and I had been discussing it since 2016, but waterlogging last August prompted us to move on it. The photos we saw in the Disaster Control Room of the BMC showed Metro debris etc., but the main culprit for water-logging was plastic dumped irresponsibly everywhere. That’s when I called up Kadamji and requested him to bring in a ban on plastic. However not all plastic is bad, or worthy of a ban. Thus, after a lot of study and consultations, we decided to bring in a ban on single-use disposable plastic.

Do you think the ban was implemented in a hurry, given few bottle crushers and uncertainty over recycling plastic waste collected?

Bottle crushers aren’t the only solution, although they are a big help. Companies such as Coca Cola and Bisleri have started collecting PET bottles and sending them for recycling or upcycling. Reliance is also taking long strides in recycling. Majorly, we have spoken to many bulk users of bottles — such as hotels, restaurants and schools — to return them for recycling. Single-use disposable plastic will also be recycled. But more importantly, once the ban comes into effect, we need not fear about generation of plastic and its multiplication. We have to start now. For a global problem like this, there is no right time. We are way past it as the human race.

Would a steep fine of ₹5,000 deter Mumbaiikars from using plastic?

The ban is a necessity. The gravity of the problem is far greater. And the economic, social and environmental damage that plastic causes to our planet is much more than a ₹5,000 fine. We need to understand how important it is to discard single-use disposable plastic. Moreover, the steep fine is against plastic producers. Citizens have made a move to give up plastic.

Other states have not been entirely successful in implementing plastic ban. How would Maharashtra ensure strict implementation?

I don’t know about other states and the reasons why they’ve failed. Of course we have studied them, but I don’t think it’s apt for us to comment. In Maharashtra, before the ban was drafted, we studied 17 other states and consulted with all stakeholders. The most important aspect is that citizens have taken this up like a revolution, even before the ban is in place. People are more aware now.

You have taken active interest on issues related to the environment, nightlife in Mumbai, etc. How would these issues help Sena reach out to youth?

For me, none of these issues is about electoral benefits. This was a gamble we took, so to speak. Thankfully, all of our issues have been welcomed and turned into a movement by people. Doing good for our planet and our society at large is politics for me. We are proud to be the only party vociferously fighting for the environment and taking conscious steps to protect it. We are also the only ones who believe in Mumbaiikars and that 24-hour cafes and shops would be great for the city. The other parties who are opposing the plan don’t trust Mumbaiikars enough.

First Published: Jun 22, 2018 12:22 IST