U-turn on plastic ban?

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The Maharashtra government might be planning to impose a total ban on plastic carry bags with effect from Gudi Padwa festival next year but will it succeed in implementing the prohibition? After the July 2005 floods the state government under the leadership of then Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh had decided to ban plastic bags. The All India Plastic Manufacturers Association had then expressed its reservation over the state government’s decision to do away with plastics. They had urged the state government to effectively implement the waste segregation and disposal system to prevent choking of drains during monsoon. Subsequently, the state government had to rethink on its decision and only banned plastic bags below 50 microns. Thus will the state government take a U-turn this time too and review its decision to ban plastic bags. In the year 1999, the centre had imposed a ban on plastic bags lesser than 25 microns in thickness. It also directed the states to ensure that all bags have the manufacturer’s name printed on them.

When Mumbai witnessed heavy rainfall in August resulting in choked drains, Shiv Sena had put forward a proposal to impose a complete ban on plastic bags. However, Mumbaikars are asking to ban plastic bags to end flooding in the city. According to them, people must first refrain from throwing waste in drains to prevent choking. They also need to use dust bins for disposing waste material.

Maharashtra Environment Minister Ramdas Kadam said, “We will impose a complete ban on plastic bags with effect from Gudi Padwa next year. If any person is found violating the law then he will have to pay Rs 50,000 as fine and will have to face a six month imprisonment. We will appeal to citizens to use paper and cloth bags. We will provide training to women self-help groups for manufacturing these commodities which will give a boost to employment.”

The minister plans to hold meetings with all municipal corporations across the state to discuss the ban on plastic carry bags.

BJP MLA Atul Bhatkhalkar said, “The civic body is not serious about implementing a ban on plastic bags. They should take an initiative in this regard for saving the environment. I had already raised this issue in the assembly and also started a campaign for creating awareness among the people. I support complete ban on plastic. Action must be taken against vegetable vendors and customers for using plastic to make the ban effective.”