The Tamil Nadu Government on Tuesday announced that it would ban the manufacture, storage and use of plastic products except as packing material for milk, curd, oil and medical products from January 1, 2019. The proposed ban would be imposed under provisions of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.
Making a suo motu statement in the Legislative Assembly on World Environment Day, Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami said the ban would take effect in the New Year so as to give time to manufacturers, traders and people to switch over to biodegradable cloth and paper bags.
“Let us gift a plastic-free Tamil Nadu to the future generation,” he said, adding that the water harvesting scheme conceived by former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa had resulted in recharging of groundwater in the state.
This is the AIADMK government’s second attempt to ban plastics. In May 2002 the Jayalalithaa government had introduced the Tamil Nadu Plastic Articles (Prohibition of Sale, Storage, Transport and Use) Bill in the Assembly. However, following opposition from plastic manufacturers, the Bill was referred to a House Select Committee within a day and subsequently withdrawn without attributing any reason.
Mr. Palaniswami said the government had decided to go ahead with the proposed ban based on the recommendations of an expert committee appointed by Jayalalithaa.
The ban would cover plastic plates, tea, coffee and water cups, water sachets, water pistons, plastic bags and plastic flags irrespective of their thickness.
Besides recommending a ban on non-biodegradable plastic products including plastic paper, plates and cups, the committee made a strong case for encouraging the usage of banana and lotus leaves and plates made out of the outer cover of arecanut tree flowers.
The Chief Minister said the plastic products dumped in waterbodies not only changed the course of water flow, but also resulted in stagnation.
“Its impact is felt heavily in sewage water canals. Plastic products also prevent recharging of groundwater. Moreover stagnant water in plastic bags remains a breeding ground for mosquitoes and spreading of diseases like malaria and dengue,” he said.