Centre’s order not being implemented effectively, says ASG

The Supreme Court on Wednesday directed 23 States and five Union Territories to file a compliance report in four weeks on implementation of the ban on gutka and pan masala containing tobacco or nicotine.

A Bench of Justices G.S. Singhvi and Kurian Joseph directed the others to explain why they had not imposed the ban so far and to indicate a time frame for doing so. The Bench passed this order after Additional Solicitor-General Indira Jaising brought to its notice an August 12, 2012 circular issued by the Centre advising all States and Union Territories to ban gutka and pan masala. She said though 23 States and five Union Territories had imposed the ban, the order was not being implemented effectively.

Prashant Bhushan, who appeared for the HFM Trust, and Shri Vishnu Behari Tewari, appearing on behalf of the Indian Dental Association, demanded a nationwide ban on all forms of chewing tobacco products. Mr. Bhushan said the ban was not being properly enforced as there was no control over manufacturing units.

During the hearing, the Bench remarked that manufactures were misleading people and creating confusion, and selling gutka and pan masala in separate sachets.

Already 23 States — Madhya Pradesh, Kerala, Bihar, Maharashtra, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Haryana, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Mizoram, Delhi, Sikkim, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Assam, Uttar Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh — and five Union Territories including Chandigarh, Dadar Nagar Haveli, Daman & Diu, Andaman & Nicobar have banned the sale, manufacture and distribution of gutka, khaini and pan masala containing tobacco, based on the regulation issued on August 1, 2011 by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India, a statutory body under the Health Ministry. In a connected matter, the Bench, after hearing Additional Solicitor-General Mohan Jain, issued notice to the Central and State pollution control boards seeking to know how they handled and disposed of plastic waste.

Justice Singhvi, after going through data, observed: “We are becoming a time bomb. When it happens, all valleys will go. The data is frightening and steps needed to be taken as plastic waste will affect not only this generation but generations to come.”

The Bench said it would first examine the disposal system in the cities of Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai, Agra, Jaipur and Faridabad, and issued notice to their Municipal Commissioners asking them to file their responses.

Mr. Mohan Jain, in a note submitted to the court, said the total quantity of plastics manufactured in the country as per a 2008 estimation was eight million tonnes per year. As per a survey conducted by the Central Pollution Control Board in 60 major cities, the average plastic waste generation was 843.2 tonnes out of the total municipal solid waste of 50,592 tonnes per day.

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