Pune: The State government’s March 23 notification on the much hyped blanket ban on plastic and plastic products has subtly removed the ban on flex boards, which are widely used by political parties, even though they are made of non-biodegradable polyvinyl chloride (PVC).
Call it an election exercise or otherwise, the sudden removal of flex boards from the GR has raised questions over the government’s true intentions regarding saving the environment. The copies of both notifications (January 2, 2018 and March 23, 2018), which is available with Sakal Times, shows how the authorities have tweaked the guidelines.
Surprisingly, environmentalists too were unaware of the alteration. When this newspaper drew their attention to it, they said that they will drag the government to court. Ranjit Gadgil said, “If Kerala banned flex boards for environment friendly elections, then why can’t the local body of Pune do it? The action taken by the government is wrong. Given the fact that the High Court had banned flexes and hoardings in urban areas, a proper ban on flex material is also required.”
Vivek Velankar said, “Not only is flex dangerous for the environment, but even the ink used on them is dangerous. Now that we known of the matter, we will approach the court.”
Pramod Shah, plastic manufacturer and member of Maharashtra Plastic Manufacturers Association, said, “In the notification of January 2, along with other plastic and thermocol items, flexes were also banned. But, in the gazette issued on March 23, flexes were excluded. I guess this was done for political mileage as political and commercial advertising will be adversely affected if flexes are banned.”
Sujit Patwardhan said, “Flex is no different to plastic. If plastic and thermocol are banned, then why not flex. It poses a similar danger to the environment. The government does all things quietly, which are in their favour.” Sagar Rathod, a flex printer from Yerwada, said, “We knew that in the notification, the government had imposed a ban on flex as well. But later they did not include it in the gazette.”
Sanjay Kamble, a flex supplier from Pimpri, said, “There was no effect even after the notification was issued. Because we knew that flex will be excluded from the ban.”
In 2010, the Kerala State Election Commission had banned use of flexes during campaigning to make elections environmental friendly. Before banning flex material, the Kerala Pollution Control Board had submitted a report stating that flex boards are highly polluting materials, which when burnt emanate dangerous gases.
What does the notification say?
In the draft notification of January 2, the plastic ban included plastic and thermocol made carry bags, plastic banners, plastic buntings, flex, non-woven polypropylene bags, plastic flags, plastic plates, plastic cups, plastic spoons, cling films and plastic sheets used for spreading on dining table, irrespective of
Also, no person including shopkeeper, vendor, wholesaler, retailer, trader, hawker or salesmen along with no industry or person shall manufacture, supply, store, transport, sale and/or distribute use or sell it. But the ban had excluded garbage bin liners and PET bottles.
However, according to the gazette on plastic ban of March 23, the gazette read: Despite the ban on plastic bags of less than 50 micron through Maharashtra Plastic Carry Bags (Manufacture and Usage) Rules, 2006, there is increase in the non-biodegradable plastic garbage waste causing damage to environment and health.
Therefore, in exercise of the powers conferred by Clause (1) & (2) of Section 4 of the Maharashtra Non-Biodegradable Garbage (Control) Act, 2006, the Government of Maharashtra hereby authorises regulations for manufacture, usage, sale, storage, transport of the products made from plastic and thermocol, which generates non-biodegradable waste. This may be called the Maharashtra Plastic and Thermocol Products (Manufacture, Usage, Sale, Transport, Handling and Storage) Notification, 2018.