Delhi imposes blanket ban on plastic carry bags

Earlier ban was only partial and had little effect on manufacturers 

By Moyna
Published: Tuesday 11 September 2012

The Delhi government has issued a blanket ban on the use of plastic carry bags across the city on Tuesday. The ban covers not just the use of plastic bags but also its manufacture, sale and storage. While hailing the decision, activists say that to make the ban effective there is a need for change in the public mind-set.

The decision was taken during a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday. The ban is not limited to thin plastic bags of less than 40 microns or specific manufacturers as was the case earlier but will be applicable to all types of plastics and their manufacture. Member secretary of Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) has been mandated to undertake overall monitoring and implementation of this ban. Sanjeev Kumar, environment secretary of Delhi and chairperson of DPCC, says, “We have a strategy in place and are going to launch a city-wide awareness campaign to stop use of all types of plastic.” He clarified that the ban does not include pre-packaged products like chips.

Even plastic book covers disallowed 

The Delhi government order states no person, including any shopkeeper, vendor, wholesaler or retailer, trader, hawker or rehriwala can sell or store or use any kind of plastic carry bag for storing or dispensing of any eatable or non-eatable goods or materials.

No person shall manufacture, import, store, sell or transport any kind of plastic carry bags in Delhi and no person shall use any kind of plastic cover or plastic sheet or plastic film or plastic tube to pack or cover any book including magazine, an invitation card or greeting card.”

The only exception to the ban is the use of plastic carry bags as specified under the Bio-Medical Waste Management and Handling Rules, 1998.

Bharti Chaturvedi, director advocacy group Chintan said the need to ban plastic bags was recognised as far back as the early 1990s and the partial ban imposed earlier along with government and environmentalists' campaigns have led to some awareness among people. “I hope this ban will take this awareness much further,” she said. The blanket ban seems to have been the only option left open because of the lack of response from the plastic manufacturing industry, she added. “The unwillingness of the industry to take responsibility for the end-life of plastic makes complete ban the only option.” She hoped the ban would be followed by incentives for better alternatives.

When asked about the lukewarm results to the last ban, Kumar said, “There is a certain amount of awareness and the use of plastic has reduced... but this time we are prepared to impose Section 19 of the Environment protection Act, which gives us the power prosecute any person violating the Act. But the idea is not to prosecute, and therefore, our efforts will be towards spreading awareness,” he added. He explained a number of officers will be authorised to implement the notification in areas under their jurisdiction.

Chief Minister Shiela Dikshit, who met media persons after the ban, reportedly said the ban has been put in place “considering the adverse effects of plastic carry bags on the environment and local ecology”. In order to impose this ban in Delhi, a notification is to be issued. It will replace the 2009 notification which said no person was permitted to manufacture, stock, distribute or sell any carry bags made of virgin or recycled or compostable plastic less than 40 microns in thickness.

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