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Monday, Aug 26, 2019

Mumbai activists hail proposed plastic ban, but doubt strict execution

mumbai Updated: Jan 12, 2018 00:21 IST
Faisal Malik
Faisal Malik
Hindustan Times
The plastic industry has said banning plastic is not the solution
The plastic industry has said banning plastic is not the solution(HT FILE)

The Maharashtra government is planning to ban plastic flags, banners, flexes, disposable containers, non-woven polypropylene bags and some other items but activists said implementing the ban would be a difficult task. The plastic industry, meanwhile, has said banning plastics is not the solution.

To make the ban effective, the government is planning measures like fixing responsibilities on field officers of local bodies and forming citizens’ committees or Mohalla committees to ensure active participation of the people.

The ban is expected to have a huge impact as it would cover many plastic items that are commonly used. However, while environment activists have welcomed the move, saying it was necessary to reverse the damage being done by plastics, the plastic industry has opposed it.

The government believes that peoples’ participation would be key in implementing the ban effectively and to that end, is pressing to create more awareness about plastic. A senior official from the state environment department, who is privy to the development, said the government is planning to form Mohalla committees comprising activists and locals to report ban violations. This will ensure that citizens will be directly engaged in the ban’s implementation, the official said.

“We are also planning to impose fine on field officers of the local bodies found to have failed in performing their duties. Besides, a helpline number will also be made available to help people report violations,” the officer said.

Stalin D, director of Vanashakti, a Mumbai-based non-governmental organisation (NGO) working for environmental rights, called the proposed ban a bold and welcome move by the state government. “The damage caused by plastic on this planet has almost reached the point of no return. All these concerns about livelihood and business is rubbish because first of all life has to sustain, the rest comes next,” said Stalin, adding, “Implementation of the ban is going to be a very difficult task. My suggestion to the government is to make possession of the banned items an offence. Only then its implementation would become really effective.”

Hiten Bheda president, All India Plastic Manufacturers Association (AIPMA), said they were under the impression that the ban would be limited to plastic bags only. But now, he said, it seems the proposed move will affect the plastic industry badly.

“As per primary estimates, it is feared some 900-1000 manufacturing units will shut down once the ban comes in place. However, if (the ban) is extended to other items then the damage to the industry would be really huge,” Bheda said.

“Plastics industry in India includes some 55,000 processing companies, 20,000 recycling units and around 55 lakh direct employees. We are still of the view that imposing ban on plastic will not solve the issues,” he added.

Tirth Patel, distributor of flex material in Mumbai, said banning flexes is like closing down the industry. “There are also many direct and indirect employees related to the industry like fabricator, printer, etc. Related sectors like labour, transport etc., all are going to be affected by the move,” Patel said. He said using disposable flex material is also an alternative to the problem but people do not like to use it as it is very expensive.

First Published: Jan 12, 2018 00:20 IST

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