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Ahead of plastic ban, Maharashtra Pollution Control Board stops renewing licences of plastic-making units 

Industry cries foul, says conditions imposed are impractical and will lead to loss of 4-5 lakh jobs

mumbai Updated: Mar 18, 2018 00:28 IST
Faisal Malik
Faisal Malik
Hindustan Times
Mumbai,plastic ban,plastics
The plastic ban is expected to come into effect from next week in Maharashtra. (HT FILE)

To strictly implement the new plastic ban, the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) has stopped renewing licences of plastic manufacturing units as the ban will cover manufacturing as well. This has created panic among the manufacturers. However, the Maharashtra government has clarified that the manufacturing units won’t have to shut down if they are willing to shift business to eco-friendly products.

The state government has said it will ban all kinds of plastic bags irrespective of its thickness, one-time disposable cutlery items made of plastic and thermocol — plates, cups, glass, bowls, forks, spoons, straw, non-woven polypropylene bags, plastic sheets, plastic pouches and all kinds of plastic films across the state.

With this ban, the manufacturing, use, storing, distribution, wholesale and retail sale, import and transportation of all the above items will be prohibited and offenders will have to pay maximum Rs25,000 fine and undergo three months of imprisonment. The ban is expected to come into effect from next week.

The ban on the manufacturing of these plastic items is likely to cost the industry around an estimated Rs4,000 crore per annum as it is feared that some 4,000-5,000 units will have to shut down their business. According to rough estimates of the All India Plastic Manufacturers Association (AIPMA), the plastic manufacturing and allied industries will lose around 4-5 lakh jobs as a result.

“We have been asked not to renew licences of the manufacturing units as the state government is coming up with a ban on certain plastic items. Once the ban comes into effect, we will start taking action against these units,” said a senior official from MPCB requesting anonymity.

Hiten Bheda, president, AIPMA, said the MPCB has stopped renewing licences of the manufacturing units. “Some of our members have approached MPCB for renewing licences of their manufacturing units but they were told that the licences would not be renewed. The word has spread like a wild fire and has created panic among the fraternity,” Bheda said.

Satish Gavai, additional chief secretary, environment department, said they don’t intend to close down plastic manufacturing units in the state. “The state government only desires to ban plastic. If these units are ready to shift to eco-friendly products, they can continue to operate business like before,” Gavai said.

Meanwhile, the manufacturing units of PET bottles said it is not practical for each of the units to set up a recycling unit for PET bottles, one of the conditions to be imposed with the new ban.

Ramesh Chauhan, chairman, Bisleri International said the conditions for PET bottles manufacturers over setting up recycling units is “just impractical.” “The recycling units need a lot of space and investment. Moreover, the existing recycling units are not getting enough number of bottles to run their business economically. In such a situation it will be extremely difficult for the new recycle unit to survive even if the manufacturers set up one,” Chauhan said.

Harpal Singh, former president, AIPMA, said the government is avoiding the real problem, which lies in littering. “If the government comes up with a solution for littering of plastic items, all the problems will be resolved automatically. But instead it is banning plastic sheets and covers without realising that the entire packaging industry would be badly affected with such a move,” he said.

First Published: Mar 18, 2018 00:28 IST