Chandigarh administration, on 31st July, announced that the city will be made “plastic-free” from Gandhi Jayanti, while administration views this as a solution to the litter problem; many oppose the ban as it which will affect over 1,000 family’s livelihood and not be an effective tool to clean the city’s litter.
“If plastic is banned in the city close to 1,200 families will be affected, which include rich industrialists as well as the rag pickers,” said Anand Syal, Sr. Vice President of Chandigarh Plastic Manufacturer & Traders Association (CPMTA). “Plastic bags don’t cause any trouble, and they are useful and easily recycled. Paper bags cost five to six times more than plastic and can cause the same level of litter. The problem lies in garbage segregation, poor arrangements for disposal and lack of management by the Municipal Corporation,” he added.
The law governing plastic bags are already stricter in Chandigarh than in other cities as it allows manufacturing of virgin plastic bags measuring over 8”X12” and above 30 micron thicknesses only, which is in accordance with the internationally accepted norms plastic usage. But unlike the previous ban this time the administration wants a complete ban.
The notification stated that “No person, including shopkeeper, vendor, wholesaler, retailer, trader, hawker or rehriwala, will be allowed the use of polythene/plastic carry bags for supply of goods in them.” The notification also makes it clear that no person will manufacture, store, import, sell or transport polythene/plastic carry bags in UT.” Violators would be charged under section 19 of the Environment (Protection) Act 1986.
Earlier, the administration had invited objections from persons likely to be affected from the aforesaid decision in February 2008, although objections and suggestions were received within 60 days, the final decision included none.
When CPMTA moved to the Punjab and Haryana High Court, stay was denied and the next date for hearing was fixed for October 22, “I fail to understand how can they fix a day 20 days after the ban would be operational? In our petition we demanded the scientific reason behind the ban and mentioned that the intention of the administration to ban plastic was beyond the powers of the administrator and also unlawful,” added Syal.
While manufactures in the city are finding the decision difficult, manufactures outside the city find the issue ‘pointless’, “The ban on plastic carry bags restricts people from manufacturing, storing and transporting polythene/plastic carry bags in UT, but it does not stop people from using them. Panchkula, Mohali and other nearby places do not have any such ban, hence there can be littering of plastic in the city,” said Vikas Garg, whose factory manufactures plastic bags 20 kms away from the city.
“The ban is ill conceived, if they want that the city should be free from plastic, why have they not thought of the plastic packing of goods and commodities? Also the Environment (Protection) Act 1986 is only for regulation of pollution-causing industry and can not be used to regulate such things. The administration should promote recycling instead,” said D. Thakur, a lawyer residing in the city.