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HC throws out PIL asking Railways to re-impose ban on plastic

Bombay High Court on Friday declined to entertain a PIL which sought a direction to the Central Railway (CR) to re-impose a ban on use of plastic to pack food items sold at suburban platforms and in local and long- distance trains.

In an oral ruling, a Bench headed by Justice Abhay Oka said it was disposing of the PIL, filed by Rail Parishad, an NGO of commuters, and the reasons for doing so would be recorded later in the order.

The Bench asked the NGO to make a representation to the Railways on the issue, if it so desired.

On last occasion, the Bench had asked the Railways to provide sufficient number of dustbins on platforms.

CR had then informed the HC they had invited tenders to award the cleanliness work to a contractor to dispose of the plastic bags found on tracks, platforms and trains.

Besides Central Railway, the other respondents to the petition were the Union of India (Ministries of Railways and Environment and Forests), Maharashtra Government and Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai.

The PIl had sought a direction to CR to implement its circular dated May 21, 2012, seeking to ban use of plastic bags by the Railway food stalls on platforms.

The petition claimed the circular had been withdrawn on July 2, 2012, after stall owners, under the leadership of activist Medha Patkar, organised an agitation against the ban.

Demanding that the circular be re-introduced, the PIL said plastic bags could not be recycled and are a source of pollution. Even if the plastic bags are burnt, methane gas is produced which is highly hazardous and poisonous.

Instead, the PIL said, paper or cloth bags should be used which can keep the environment pollution-free. Plastic bags, if dumped indiscriminately, would clog drains.

Plastic is generally a non-biodegradable material and its decomposition takes more than 1,000 years. Petroleum is used to make plastic. But petroleum products are diminishing and getting expensive by the day, it said.

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