Harping on effective engagement and concerted actions by all the stakeholders for the success of the ban on single use plastic (SUP) from July 1, the government on Wednesday once again reached out to local municipalities to buttress the importance of their role.
"We had a meeting with 47 cities that have a population of over 10 lakh. It was attended by municipal commissioners and state level officers. We discussed with them regarding enforcement of the ban on SUP and an awareness generation campaign on this issue. All of them assured proper action," Additional Secretary at the Environment Ministry, Naresh Pal Gangwar told IANS.
The Centre has announced a total ban on identified SUP items from July 1 and set up national and state level control rooms and formed special enforcement teams for checking illegal manufacture, import, stocking, distribution, sale and use of banned single use plastic items. The states and UTs have been asked to set up border checkpoints to stop inter-state movement of any banned items.
However, with punitive action delegated to state pollution control boards (SPCBs), urban and rural local bodies that in turn would apply the provision of the Environment (Protection) Act 1986 - popular as EP Act - which provides for a monetary fine and a jail term for violations. The government has also said that several municipal bodies have their own bylaws too.
The EP Act provides for imprisonment up to 5 years, or a penalty up to Rs 1 lakh, or both depending upon the severity of the offence.
"The municipalities may do with a Rs 5,000 fine for using SUP items. But we have really left it to them for effective implementation," said another official from the Ministry.
The Centre had been in talks with the state officials and local bodies since last year as part of follow ups and therefore, the hopeful government again held a virtual meeting with these 42 million plus population cities, MPCs as they are called, that generate huge volumes of waste from SUP items.
But it is not just the municipalities that are raring to go, other stakeholders were optimistic about the ban and also had a word of caution.
The Indian Pollution Control Association (IPCA), a not-for-profit established in 2001 with the support of Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, has welcomed the government's move.
"We are hoping that this ban would be enforced on ground by the regulatory and monitoring bodies and well accepted and supported by the citizens," Ashish Jain, director founder of the IPCA, said and added, this ban will help to reduce plastic waste generation and its littering in the country.
"I think it will be implemented (completely) in the coming two years if plastic users such as Amul etc. don't subvert it as they are trying; the government does not lose steam and keeps its awareness campaigns going on for long and, equally important, having a hand holding plus incentives for alternatives, which can include government procurements," said Bharti Chaturvedi of NGO Chintan that works with rag pickers and in the field of waste management.
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