Eight months after the State government issued orders prohibiting the use of many kinds of plastic, including bags to protect environment, banned plastic material continue to rule the normal life, at least in Dakshina Kannada and Mangaluru.
Except retail chains such as Big Bazaar, More, Spar, and some others, every shop in the region is selling groceries, vegetables, fruit and other products through plastic bags, the menace of which was sought to be ended through the ban. The retail chains however offer paper and cloth bags.
Though the Canara Plastic Manufacturers’ Association had challenged the March 11, 2016, Special Gazette Notification issued by the Department of Environment and Forest before the Karnataka High Court, the court had declined to interfere in the matter since other avenues were available. Accordingly, the Association moved the National Green Tribunal at its Chennai Bench. Association President B.A. Nazeer told The Hindu that the arguments concluded on Tuesday and the Bench would announce the date for the pronouncement of the order on Wednesday.
Mr. Nazeer said that plastic manufacturers in the district had completely stopped production of banned items. They were producing only grocery bags and some other products that have not been banned. Asked about the large-scale presence and use of plastic carry bags, Mr. Nazeer said they must have been sourced from neighbouring States where the ban is not in force.
The Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB), one of the agencies monitoring the ban, has been inspecting manufacturing units regularly to ensure that banned items are not being produced, said Rajashekar Puranik, Environment Officer of the Board in Mangaluru.
The March 11 Notification has banned the manufacture, storage and use of bags, banners, buntings, flex, flags, plates, cups, spoons, cling films, dining table sheets, thermocol, all made of plastic, irrespective of thickness. The move was aimed at preventing the discarding of these plastic items in open fields, water bodies etc., and the consequent choking of the environment.
The Notification has authorised the heads, health officers and engineers of urban local bodies, deputy commissioners of districts, assistant commissioners of revenue sub-divisions, environmental engineers and officers of KSPCB, tahsildars, officers of the Commercial Taxes Department and Food and Civil Supplies Department to initiate legal action over non-compliance with the order.
Deputy Commissioner K.G. Jagadeesha and Mangaluru City Corporation Commissioner Mohammed Nazeer were not available for comment.
Full stop for grocery bags too
The Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB), which has decided to extend the ban on plastic to grocery bags too, has began issuing show-cause notices to industries manufacturing such bags.
Grocery bags are those without ‘handles’ – the presence of which would make them carry bags. They come in different weight categories. KSPCB had not enforced a ban on these bags.
KSPCB environment officer, Mangaluru, Rajashekar Puranik, told The Hindu that the Board had already issued show-cause notices to around seven manufacturing industries in Mangaluru and fresh notices would follow. If the industries do not stop manufacturing such bags within 15 days and comply to the notice, the Board will issue closure orders, he said.