Monday Musings: Plastic ban will work only if it turns into a citizens’ movement
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Monday Musings: Plastic ban will work only if it turns into a citizens’ movement

To become successful, this ban has to be celebrated and turned into a movement.

pune Updated: Mar 19, 2018 15:59 IST
Abhay  Vaidya
Abhay Vaidya
Hindustan Times, Pune
Monday Musings,Pune,Plastic ban
Abandoned cows feeding on garbage have been known to swallow plastic bags in large quantities.(HT PHOTO)

Within a day of the state cabinet’s decision to introduce a comprehensive plastic ban in Maharashtra, there has been high scepticism within the government itself on its ability to impose and implement the ban. Therefore, the very next day, state environment minister Ramdas Kadam announced that the ban will be imposed in a phased manner.

Set to be introduced on March 18 on the auspicious occasion of Gudhi Padwa, the ban will cover all forms of plastic bags (with or without handle), 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.

Milk bags and PET bottles will carry a refundable recycling charge of 50 paisa and Re1 respectively while garbage bags have been exempted from the ban.

Here’s what going to happen in all likelihood: Within a few months or weeks of the ban, the media will highlight the continuing use of the banned items; show plastic garbage strewn all around; and will pounce on the government to declare that the ban has failed.

One possibility is that the ban could get further diluted with a court order in response to a petition from the Maharashtra Plastic Manufacturing Association (MPMA), which is expected. There will be a lot of corruption in the government and municipal departments with the continuing use and smuggling of plastic bags and other banned items in the state.

Karnataka introduced a plastic ban in 2016 but the use of plastic carry bags appears to be too widespread. Ditto is the case with the gutkha ban in Maharashtra and the failure to implement the helmet rule in the state.

So what is the way out?

First and foremost, the Maharashtra government’s comprehensive ban on plastic products is a very welcome step and could not have come a day sooner. In fact, it has been long overdue and should have been enforced at least a decade earlier to gain control over the enormous pollution and nuisance caused by plastic in the state.

To become successful, the ban now has to be turned into a citizen’s movement. It will be effective only when each one of us gives up the use of the banned plastic items. It will be effective only when schools, colleges, NGOs and citizens who are passionate about the environment celebrate the ban, adhere to it steadfastly and come up with creative ways to present biodegradable alternatives. This is a ban which needs to be celebrated and embraced by one and all.

First Published: Mar 19, 2018 15:57 IST