150 people fined for throwing plastic bags in drains

Cracking the whip on all those throwing plastic bags in drains, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has fined nearly 150 people and collected a fine of Rs 1.32 lakh in a fortnight.

After having learnt lessons from July 26 deluge, when plastic bags had blocked drains and led to flooding in the metropolis, the civic body has formed two ‘plastic ban’ squads consisting of six people.

“We have collected a fine of Rs 1.32 lakh from 146 people who were caught throwing plastic in drains in the last 12-13 days. These people are largely hawkers and shopkeepers,” Deputy Municipal Commissioner Rajendra Bhosale told PTI here.

On June 11, Municipal Commissioner Swadhin Kshatriya had announced that anyone caught throwing plastic, thermocol and other items during monsoon will have to pay fine ranging from Rs 100-5,000.

“These cases are mostly from eastern suburbs like Kurla, Mulund, Chembur, Govandi and others followed by western suburbs and the island city,” Bhosale said.

Drain clogging had led to massive flooding on July 26, 2005 forcing the state government to contemplate banning polythene bags.

As per the Maharashtra Non-biodegradable Garbage Control Act, the minimum thickness of plastic carry bags must be 50 micron and their size should be no less than 8×12 inches.

From Hindustan Times

Despite ban, plastic bags still clog airports, railway stations

New Delhi There might be a ban on plastic bags in the city, but they form about a third of the huge mountains of plastic waste generated by the three main railway stations and two airports in the Capital every day.

The figures are staggering. A Central Pollution Control Committee (CPCB) study has found that while Hazrat Nizamuddin, Old Delhi and New Delhi railway stations together churn out at least 6,758 kg of plastic waste every day, the international and domestic airports are not far behind with 3,662 kg per day.

But a closer look reveals that the density of waste generation is more at the airports. While the per capita plastics waste generation is approximately 9 gm/day at the railway stations, it is a high 69 gm/day at the airports. Despite the ban on plastic bags in the Capital, they form 30 per cent of the waste in the railway stations, the major chunk being plastic bottles. However, they form just 10 per cent of the waste generated at the airports, most probably because the shops inside enforce the ban on plastic bags. The main generators of plastic waste at the airports are the caterers, found the study.

“We found lots of plastic bags in the waste. This maybe because passengers coming from other parts of the country do not know the rules here. It the responsibility of the airports and railway stations to make this known,” says CPCB chairman S P Gautam.

But it is not just the passengers who are at fault. A random check revealed that plastic bags are being freely used at the airports and railway stations despite the Rs 1-lakh penalty on those flouting the ban.

But the major problem is plastic bottles. The CPCB now thinks proper waste disposal channels are necessary to get rid of them. “Given the quantity of waste being generated, we have recommended that the plastic be properly used. Ideally, it should be incinerated in cement kilns or used in making roads. Proper channels have to be made for re-use of waste, there is no other way. This is part of our recommendations,” he says.

From Express India

New Delhi Plastic Bag Ban Breaks Down

Eighteen months after being banned in Delhi, plastic bags are back… not that they ever really went away.

The government warned in January last year, that anyone caught using plastic shopping bags would face a fine and, in extreme cases, a prison sentence. But in this teeming city of 16 million people, enforcing the ban has simply proved too difficult.

“The ban is obviously good and people should adhere to it, but sometimes when you get into the mood of buying things, just at the spur of the moment, then if you don’t have a bag, then you need a plastic bag – it’s just useful.”

“If you really want to ban plastic, get an alternative for that. People will stop using it.”

For environmentalists, alternatives have been difficult to find.  Plastic bags are well known as an ecological scourge. They don’t decompose. They clog rivers and kill cattle and birds that ingest them. The ban’s failure in Delhi is a source of great frustration for campaigners like Bharati Chaturvedi.

[Bharati Chaturvedi, Environmentalist]:
“Our plastic ban in Delhi was based on the notion of beating and policing. Such a ban – it does not work. If you compare it with other kinds of bans in other parts of the world, what we found is that they have not been banned, there have been taxes. The Irish put a very small tax, Washington, DC put a small tax but the plastic bag usage just collapsed after that.”

The movement toward taxing plastic bags has not yet gained a foothold in India despite a booming economy which has spurred a steady increase in their use. The government wants shopkeepers to use jute or paper bags but traders say nothing is as efficient as plastic.

[Praveen Khandelwal, Secretary General, Confederation of All India Traders]:
“It is the cheapest packaging material available in the country. [It is] Very easily available, very easy to handle and very easy to store. So these are the four characteristics for plastic to become so prevalent – not only among the shopkeepers but also among the consumers. If the government is able to make available the alternate material, I think we are definitely here to abide by the law.”

So far however, the law has had no impact in Delhi where for now environmental concerns take second place to commerce and convenience.


Delhi’s ban on plastic bags – officials going blind

Plastic bags are back with a vengeance. Shoppers across Delhi are once again going home with colourful plastic bags full of goodies that they’ve bought.

The shopkeepers have also started stocking them again in blatant violation of the plastic bag ban in place since January 2009. The Delhi government, meanwhile, seems to have turned a blind eye to it.

The latest records filed at the courts show that the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) could not spot more than 115 people using or selling plastic bags in the past 15 months in this city of nearly 2 crore people.

“Enforcing the ban in shops and unorganized sectors has been a problem,” admitted Dharmendra Kumar, Delhi Environment Secretary. “We have fined a number of people but we can’t have constant policing.”

With the government dragging its feet on the ban, one of Delhi’s biggest environmental policy interventions in years—after the introduction of Compressed Natural Gas-based public transport a decade ago—has died a slow death.

While the government claimed that the plastic bags had been weeded out of malls, a random check showed markets in Defence Colony, Janak Puri, INA market, Gole Market and Bengali Market were, as expected, teeming with violators.

Apart from grocery stores and sweet shops, meat shops and fruit vendors mushrooming across localities are bringing the bag back in circulation.

The Delhi government, too, goofed up in its reading of the laws governing the ban.

Sources said the DPCC had earlier asked the MCD to fine violators as per the Delhi Municipal Corporation Act, 1957. But towards the middle of last year, the DPCC realised that the MCD could not fine anyone as the Environment Protection Act, 1986, which governs the ban, empowers only the state pollution boards for the job.

Thanks to this mix up, the MCD’s citywide reach could not be utilised to penalise violators.

“The government does not appear serious about the ban,” said Vinod Jain, the petitioner who had won the long-drawn case against the “plastic lobby” to force the ban on Delhi. Traders, who circulate the bags through their shops, said the government lost out to the well-organised network of the plastic bag manufacturers.

“Every morning, delivery boys come to the markets and deliver the plastic bags. For traders, it is a matter of availability of a cheap packaging material. Where are the alternate bag makers in this race?” said Praveen Khandelwal, secretary general of Confederation of All India Traders, the biggest traders’ organization in Delhi.

The matter is now in the Supreme Court, where plastic manufacturers have said the ban was illegal, as the government did not carry out mandatory public hearing before the ban.

From Hindustan Times

Plastic ban: milk packets to be an exception

Two months after the civic body imposed a complete ban on use of plastic, the city improvement committee of the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) has sought the withdrawal of ban on bags used for milk supply. Meanwhile, it has proposed extending the ban on plastic used for sale of gutkha, popcorn and other products in pouches.

On December 26 last year, the PMC general body had passed a resolution seeking total ban on plastics of all sizes. The civic action helped in reduction of huge amount of plastic waste that was generated everyday. The civic administration had been seizing plastic bags used by shopkeepers, penalising them and initiating legal action against some.

“Almost every household in the city gets its milk supply in plastic bags. A ban on plastic bags used for milk supply will create inconvenience to citizens at large and introducing a system of supply of milk in bottles is not possible all of a sudden. Thus, the civic body should exempt the plastic bags used for milk supply,” said Kiran Bartakke, chairman, city improvement committee.

The proposal to this effect will now be tabled in the general body on March 19.

The proposal suggests that the ban on plastic bags for milk supply should be withdrawn. Simultaneously, the plastic pouches used for gutkha, popcorn and other products should be banned as they were causing major environmental hazards, it said.

Shiv Sena corporator Prithviraj Sutar said the plastic bags for milk supply are recycled and are not left in open to damage the environment unlike other plastic bags. The plastic manufacturers association continues to protest against the decision of the civic body. “The PMC had taken the decision without taking our opinion into consideration. The ban is not acceptable and would not succeed without our support,” said Bansilal Lunkad, president of the association, adding that it would challenge the decision legally if the civic body did not reconsider it.

Meanwhile, the civic body has undertaken the promotion of alternatives to plastic bags by deciding to support organisations that support manufacture of paper bags.

From Indian Express