To implement a ban on use of plastic bags up to 40 microns

After much sabre-rattling over banning all kinds of plastic carry bags, GHMC backtracked from its earlier decision on Tuesday. It has now announced a ban on plastic bags of up to 40 microns as mandated by the Union government – to be strictly implemented from July 1.

“GHMC Act does not give us powers to implement a total ban on plastic usage. But, we have written to the government to implement the same and when the proposal is cleared, we will come out with an action plan on prohibiting all plastic bags after taking into consideration the interests of stakeholders,” said Commissioner M.T. Krishna Babu at a press conference.

Resolution defended

Flanked by Mayor B. Kartika Reddy, Deputy Mayor Jaffer Husain, and Additional Commissioner S. Aleem Basha, the Commissioner tried to defend the Standing Committee resolution which had sought a complete ban on all plastic bags. “The resolution was passed in good faith considering the environmental angle. But we had to be 100 per cent sure about enforcing it – so we took a legal opinion and realised that we are bound by the Government of India notification,” he said.

It was the Union Ministry of Environment & Forests which has to take a decision on the total ban of plastic bags.

The Mayor, too, put up a brave face. “It was not a wrong decision and was based on the overall environmental impact and affect on garbage and stormwater drains. We make a public policy and officials have to look into the ‘technical' issues of implementing it,” she explained.

Declaration

Mr. Krishna Babu pointed out that manufacturers, too, had given a self-declaration not to make plastic bags of less than 40 microns and the ban would be enforced totally with a penalty of Rs. 25, 000 to Rs.50, 000 for the first offence. It will be followed by cancelling the licence to seizing of equipment in the first phase.

“The second phase campaign will cover retailers and traders. They could be fined between Rs. 2, 000 to Rs. 5, 000 for violations and later relevant penal actions including closure of shops. We will go the consumer in the final phase after creating awareness,” he said.

Fine

Individuals can be fined from Rs. 250 to Rs. 500 for violations, but it is not going to be implemented straightaway.

Most plastic bags of less than 40 microns were being used by petty vendors and hawkers. Production cost increase to make bigger micron plastic bags was marginal and the machines only needed to be tweaked a bit, he observed.

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