The State of Maharashtra has been trending a lot in the news lately because of its stringent action to curb the plastic pollution in India’s second most populous state.
The Maharashtra government on March 23rd, 2018, passed a notification under the name of Maharashtra Plastic and Thermocol Products (Manufacture, Usage, Sale, Transport, Handling and Storage) Notification, 2018 to impose a ban on manufacturing, use, sale, distribution and storage of plastic materials such as one-time-use bags, spoons, plates, PET and PETE bottles and thermocol items. The ban came into effect on June 23rd, 2018 after allowing a breathing period of three months to clear the stocks.
What is banned?
- All types of plastic bags
- Disposable plastic products like spoons, cups, plates, glasses, bowls, and containers
- Disposable thermocol items like plates, glasses, bowls, and containers
- Plastic or thermocol decoration items
- Disposable dish/bowl used for packaging food in hotels, spoon, straw, non-woven polypropylene bags, cups/pouches to store liquid
- Plastic packaging to wrap or store the products or liquids
What is not banned?
- Plastic bags or plastic used for packaging of medicines;
- Compostable plastic bags or material used for plant nurseries, horticulture, agriculture, handling of solid waste.
- Plastic and plastic bags for export purpose only, in the Special Economic Zone and export-oriented units.
- The plastic used for handling of solid waste (for example garbage used at homes).
- Plastic cover or plastic to wrap material used at the manufacturing stage or is an integral part of manufacturing.
- Food grade virgin plastic bags not less than 50-micron thickness used for packaging of milk.
What is the penalty?
As per the notification, violators would be penalized Rs. 5000 for the first time offence and Rs. 10,000 for violation the second time. The repeat offenders would have to shell out Rs. 25,000 and may also be liable for imprisonment for up to three months.
Who is responsible for implementation?
The responsibility of implementing the ban is with officials from Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) and for regulating this law at tourist locations, tourism police, or Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation has been made responsible.
Is it a sham?
This is not the first time that the Maharashtra government has imposed the plastic ban, earlier in 2006, the government banned plastic items below 50 microns but due to poor implementation by the government the action was completely futile.
The condition of Mumbai Juhu Beach, a famous tourist spot is the best example to reflect the failure of the Maharashtra government. The long stretch of the beach is fully covered by tons of plastic waste. The cleanup was conducted at the beach but without strict action from the authorities, the condition didn’t get any better.
Even after the imposition of the Swachh Bharat Cess which came into effect from November 15th, 2015 the condition of Mumbai beaches has not even slightly improved.
Learning from its past failures the government is more cautious this time and sanctioned Rs. 10 crore to spread awareness about the plastic ban, setting up plastic collection centres and constituting teams to check the violations. But the question is – will the funds be properly utilized this time or it will just be a waste of taxpayers’ money? Will the government be able to effectively implement the plastic ban or it is just a sham?