By Chirali Sharma:
It seems that our state authorities are gradually becoming environmentally-conscious and taking strict steps to keep their surroundings clean.
Recently, the Haryana government did away with plastic bottles in government offices. And from June 23, 2018, the Maharashtra government has started a state-wide ban on any and all things plastic – including single-use items like spoons, bags, plates, thermocol products, PET/PETE bottles, etc.
The Maharashtra government had actually come out with this ban on March 23, 2018. It had set itself a period of three months for the disposal of their in-stock plastic items (at that time) and figure out substitutes for plastic.
The Devendra Fadnavis-led government issued the Maharashtra Plastic and Thermocol Products (manufacture, sale, distribution, storage, transport, handling) notice because of the environmental risks of plastics and the threat it poses to stray and wild animals who often accidentally consume plastic items and harming their own selves.
But many people are still confused about what exactly the ban entails, what plastic items come under it, whether there are any exceptions – and above all, the punishment if anyone is found using plastic products.
Here’s a look at some of the concerns:
As per the notice, mostly plastic and thermocol items are banned. These include:
1. Plastic bags (with or without a handle), garbage bags.
2. Disposable containers, spoons, cups, plates, forks, glasses.
3. PET bottles with a capacity of less than 500 ml.
4. Plastic packaging like sheets and wraps to store products.
5. Non-woven polythene bags, plastic straws, pouches that hold liquids and any other plastic item that can be used to pack, store or transfer any kind of food item.
6. Using plastic or thermocol for decorative purposes.
Realising that finding replacements or alternatives to something as widely-used and cheaply-available like plastic may be difficult, the authorities have listed out some exceptions to the ban.
1. Plastic raincoats.
2. Plastic covers/materials used by companies at the manufacturing stage and those used in the packaging of appliances.
3. Plastic items that are used in the packaging of solid wastes.
4. The medical sector will be able to use thermocol boxes to store medicines and plastic items for saline bottles, medicines, and drugs.
5. Plastic pens.
6. Plastic bags used to store food grains and as packaging for food items like biscuits, chips and more.
7. Plastic bottles and milk bags that are food grade virgin in quality. They must also be collected back from the buyer for recycling purposes. Or the customer has to pay a small recycling fee to the shopkeeper when buying the product.
According to sources, there are three levels to the fine that will be levied. The severity of the punishment will be increased after each offence.
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) will be making Mumbai’s residents aware of the ban and all it includes over the weekend.
They will start imposing the fines on any person not adhering to the ban from Monday onward.
For a first-time offender, the fine amount will be ₹5,000. ₹10,000 will be charged for a second violation. For a third offence, you will be charged with a fine of ₹25,000. You could also face a prison sentence of about three months.
Furthermore, the ban is not just limited to the residents of Mumbai. Even tourists and people travelling through the city are expected to follow the rules of the ban. For this, the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation and the police are expected to regulate tourist locations to ensure that no violations occur.
A version of this post was first published here.