The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), on June 26, 2019, said that it has collected Rs 3.47 crores as fine, from those flouting the rules on ban of plastic items, besides lodging 489 FIRs against them. The civic body is the enforcing authority for the ban in Mumbai. The government’s state-wide ban on the use of plastic items, including carry-bags and thermocol, came into effect on June 23, 2018. All kinds of plastic bags, irrespective of their thickness, tea cups, glasses, thermocol glasses, thermocol used for decoration, plastic used in hotels to parcel food like boxes and spoons, were covered under the purview of the ban.
For first-time offenders, the fine was fixed at Rs 5,000 and Rs 10,000 for second-time offenders. Those who violate it for the third time are fined Rs 25,000 along with an imprisonment of three months. According to the BMC, till June 25, 2019, the inspectors appointed to check the use of banned plastics, made 10.35 lakh visits and seized 61,851 kg of banned items. Notably, of the seized 61,851 kg of banned plastics, 28,000 kg was seized in the first four months of the implementation.
However, according to environmental activists, the ban has failed to curb use of plastic items. Amrita Bhattacharjee, a green activist, said, “Most of the shops selling vegetables, sweets or grocery items are happily offering plastic bags to their customers. Customers, too, are not afraid of carrying plastic bags.” Bhattacharjee, a member of the Aarey Conservation Group – a forum of activists that is trying to save trees coming in way of the metro rail project – termed the plastic ban as a ‘farce’. “The plastic ban notification was nothing but a farce. The MPCB (Maharashtra Pollution Control Board) was supposed to be responsible for its implementation but they have completely failed to perform their duty and plastic is again back in the market,” she said.
When contacted, a senior civic official said, although the implementation lost momentum in subsequent months, it would not be right to term it as a complete failure. “Usage of single-use plastic items has been reduced significantly. Even plastic manufacturers have started other businesses. We hope a day will shortly come, when there will be no single-use plastic item in the market,” he said.
Plastic packaging: NGT asks expert panel to probe if more norms needed to restrict its use
The National Green Tribunal has set up a panel, to probe whether there is a need for further norms to restrict plastic packaging of food products, after a plea sought a ban on it citing health and environment concerns
June 7, 2019: A bench headed by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) chairperson justice Adarsh Kumar Goel, formed an expert committee which comprises representatives of the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India, Bureau of Indian Standards, Central Pollution Control Board and Directorate General of Health Services, which will examine whether there is a need for further norms to restrict plastic packaging of food products. The NGT was hearing a petition filed by NGO Him Jagriti Uttaranchal Welfare Society, seeking a ban on the use of plastic bottles and multi-layered/plastic packages /pet bottles.
“We are of the opinion that the question, whether any further regulatory provisions are required on the subject of restrictions on the packaging by use of plastic material, after the steps already taken, and if so to what extent, be examined by an expert committee comprising of the representatives of FSSAI, BIS, CPCB and DGHS. The nodal agency for coordination will be the FSSAI. The committee will be at liberty to co-opt any other expert/ institute or individual and furnish its report to this tribunal within three months by e-mail,” the bench said.
Use of plastics, including polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles and multi-layered packs such as tetra packs, have an adverse impact on health and environment, the plea said, adding that it also results in increase in plastic waste. It said the notification dated December 24, 2018, issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, under Section 92 of Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006, deals with the issue of packaging mode of food but it ignores Antimony and Di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP) in specific migration limits provided for plastic packaging.
The tribunal also noted the stand of the Ministry of Environment and Forests that the provision for phasing out multi-layered plastic may not be immediately feasible, without alternatives. The NGO, however, told the NGT that the MoEF has only focused on waste management and not on the subject of restrictions on the use of plastic as a packaging material. “MoEF itself has found the Plastic Waste Management Rules to be deficient. The Packaging and Labelling Regulations, 2018 under the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006, do not deal with the issue in entirety and are not adequate to deal with the problem,” the NGO said. The matter is posted for next hearing on October 14, 2019.