Ban on plastic bags; violators to face 5-year jail

The Delhi government will impose a blanket ban on usage and manufacturing of plastic bags in the next two months.

New Delhi: In a major environment-friendly move, the Delhi government will impose a blanket ban on usage and manufacturing of plastic bags in the next two months and those violating it could face imprisonment up to five years
and fine of up to Rs 1 lakh or both.

The ban is being imposed under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 under which storage as well as sale of plastic bags will also be considered an offence.

The government has issued a draft notification seeking suggestions as well as objections, if any, to the move from the stakeholders till November 20 following which a final notification will be issued imposing the ban.

According to the draft notification, no person including shopkeepers, vendors, wholesalers, retailers and hawkers will be allowed to sell, store or use plastic carry bags for supply of any goods.

"No person shall (be allowed) to manufacture, store, import, sell or transport any kind of plastic carry bags (including that of Poly Propelene, Nonwoven fabric type carry bags) in the whole of National Capital Territory of Delhi except for export purposes," the notification said.

The use of plastic cover/pouch to pack magazines, invitation cards, greeting cards will also be prohibited.

However, the ban will not be applicable for containers used for packing food material, milk and "bags that constitute or form an integral part of the packaging in which goods are sealed prior to use", said the notification.

The Delhi Cabinet had in April decided to go for the blanket ban, considering that a ban imposed on use of plastic bags in January 2009, which did not include manufacturing activities, had not given the desired results.

"We are determined to enforce the ban on manufacture, sale, storage and usage of plastic bags in the national capital," a top official said.

If the ban comes into force, then around 400 plastic bag manufacturing units, currently operating in the city, will have to be closed. The annual turnover of these units is in the range of Rs 800 crore to Rs 1,000 crore, according to industry estimate.

A trader, who runs a plastic bag manufacturing unit, claimed that over 20,000 people would be left jobless if the units are closed down.

Following a Delhi High Court order, the government had in January 2009 imposed a ban on the use of plastic bags in various markets, shopping malls, hotels and hospitals but it has not been very effective.

The government had imposed the ban, exercising provisions of Delhi Degradable Plastic Bags (Manufacturing, Sales and Usage) and Garbage (Controlled) Act-2000, had forbidden sales, storage and use of all kinds of plastic bags in certain notified places.

The notified places included luxury hotels, hospitals, restaurants, all fruits and vegetable outlets of Mother Dairy, liquor vends, shopping malls, local shopping centres and all retail and wholesale outlets of branded chain of outlets
selling different consumer products including fruits and vegetables.

Officials said plastic carry bags for use, as specified under the BioMedical Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 1998 will not be covered under the notification to be issued under Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.


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