No action plan, but govt confident of blanket plastic ban by June 23

Neha Basudkar
Friday, 15 June 2018

Vijay Habbu, a member of Chief Minister’s Special Task Force, said, “There are two actions taken against plastic viz., one is governmental action and second is judicial action."

PUNE: Although the State has failed to find out solutions and prepare an action plan for plastic waste management, it is steadfast that from June 23 there would be a ‘blanket ban’, on plastic in the State.

Interestingly, the government on June 8 had filed an affidavit in Mumbai High Court saying that the ‘special task force’ formed to find out solutions and prepare an action plan for plastic waste management to end the life cycle of plastic has not come up with any foolproof buyback mechanism for recycling of plastic waste. Thus, the hearing was postponed again and now will take place on June 22. 

Vijay Habbu, a member of Chief Minister’s Special Task Force, said, “There are two actions taken against plastic viz., one is governmental action and second is judicial action. Since there is no decision on foolproof buyback mechanism for recycling of plastic waste, the judicial action will continue unless and until the task force does not come up with an action plan. There will be a ban on plastic.”

On March 23, the government had issued a notification, imposing a ban on the manufacture, use, sale, distribution and storage of all plastic materials like one-time-use bags, spoons, plates, PET and PETE bottles and also thermocol items.

The notification gave a period of three months to the manufacturers, distributors and retailers to dispose of existing stock of the banned items. And the consumers and users were, however, given only a period of one month to dispose of the stock.

A brief history on the notification and case filed:
The first case was filed in Mumbai HC on February 7, by Maharashtra Plastic Manufacturers Association (MPMA), the PET bottle association, thermocol manufacturers and retailer associations against the public notice issued by the State Environment Department on January 2, intending to impose the ban on the ground that the ban was arbitrary, bad in law and violated their fundamental right to livelihood. 

The second writ petition was filed by the association on March 23 when the State had issued the government resolution (GR) on the blanket ban of plastic. On April 13, HC rejected the interim relief after observing that the court cannot ignore the adverse effects of plastic waste on the environment and they then gave a three-month time, i.e, till June 23. It ensured that the consumers will not be fined for using any kind of plastic but the trader, manufacturer, producer etc., will be fined or prosecuted. The bench had then also directed the petitioners to file representations before the State government (SG) for further consideration on the issue. And finally on June 8, the advocate of SG went to HC and filed an affidavit saying it has formed two committees - an expert committee and an implementation committee.

The affidavit said the government has formed a task force comprising different plastic manufacturing associations, experts from different institutions and government officials concerned to find out solutions and to prepare an action plan for plastic waste management to end the life cycle of plastic. The petitioner associations have not come up with any foolproof buyback mechanism for recycling of plastic waste. So the court on Friday directed the government to give copies of its affidavit to all petitioners and posted the matter for further hearing on June 22.

Commenting on it, Ravi Jashnani, President of MPMA, said, “We are trying to find an alternative to plastic. HC has given us the time to find alternatives or solutions.” 

Who all will be affected?
1) The ban in the entire Maharashtra for manufacture, usage, transport, distribution, wholesale and retail sale and storage, import of the plastic bags with handle and without handle, and the disposable products manufactured from plastic and thermocol (polystyrene) such as single use disposable dish, cups, plates, glasses, fork, bowl, container, disposable dish/ bowl used for packaging food in hotels, spoon, straw, non-woven polypropylene bags, cups/ pouches to store liquid, packaging with plastic to wrap or store the products, packaging of food items and food grain material etc.

2) These regulations are applicable to every person, body of person, government and non-government organisation, educational institution, sport complex, clubs, cinema halls and theaters, marriage/celebration halls, industrial units, commercial institutions, offices, pilgrimage organisers, pilgrimages and religious places, hotels, dhabas, shopkeepers, malls, vendors or sellers, traders, manufacturers, caterer, wholesalers, retailers, stockiest, businessmen, hawkers, salesmen, transporters, market, producers, stalls, tourist places, forest & reserved forest, eco-sensitive areas, all sea beaches, all public places, bus stands, railway stations in the State of Maharashtra.

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