New Delhi: The Centre did not prepare enough to provide people alternatives and shift manufacturing units to green options before banning single-use plastic and the curb cannot be imposed forcibly, Delhi Environment Minister Gopal Rai has said. He also claimed the Union government did not even call a meeting of state environment ministers before the ban came into force.
I think it (announcement of the ban) lacked preparation. Stakeholders should have been told about alternatives and the government’s support (provided) to help them shift to the green options. I think these issues should have been resolved before announcing the ban, Mr Rai told PTI in an interview.
The minister said raw materials for alternatives to single-use plastic items attract high GST, which makes the product unviable for people.
The GST rate on green alternatives and their raw material should have been slashed before the implementation of the ban. The central government was required to prepare a proper mechanism. The curb cannot be enforced forcibly, he said.
Besides drafting laws, the governments in states and at the Centre need to work on options available if they want to stop plastic pollution, the minister said.
Our government organised a three-day fair at the Thyagraj Stadium to promote alternatives to single-use plastic items. We got to know that units manufacturing such items are willing to shift to alternatives, but it takes long (around a year) to obtain necessary permissions. Till then, the machinery and the factory will be rendered useless. What will happen to the labour during the waiting period? he asked.
Such units require permission from the Central Pollution Control Board. The application needs to be submitted with a report from the Central Institute of Petrochemicals Engineering which tests compostable plastic.
The institute takes around six months to conduct the tests and there is a waiting period of over six months on average. Mr Rai had recently written to Union Environment Minister Bhupender Yadav, requesting him to authorise more laboratories to test compostable products.
To spread awareness about the ban on single-use plastic items, the Delhi government will impart training to the members of eco-clubs in the capital.
The training programme will be conducted on July 19 in collaboration with the United Nations Environment Programme.
There are around 2,000 eco-clubs in Delhi.
In a bid to reduce plastic pollution, India has banned 19 single-use plastic items, including earbuds, plastic sticks for balloons, flags, candy sticks, ice-cream sticks, polystyrene (thermocol), plates, cups, glasses, forks, spoons, knives, straws, trays, wrapping or packaging films around sweets boxes, invitation cards, cigarette packets, plastic or PVC banners of less than 100 microns and stirrers.
Plastic carry bags of thickness less than 75 microns are also prohibited under the Plastic Waste Management Rules. Their thickness will have to be increased to 120 microns from December 31.
Plastic wrapping material less than 50 microns in thickness and plastic sachets used for selling and storing tobacco, pan masala and gutkha are also not allowed. Delhi generates 1,060 tonnes of plastic waste per day. Single-use plastic is estimated to be 5.6 per cent (or 56 kg per metric tonnes) of the total solid waste in the national capital.
Mr Rai had on Tuesday written a letter to Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, requesting her to slash GST rates on alternatives to SUP items and their raw material to help their penetration in the market.
Representatives of units manufacturing green alternatives said that jute and canvas attract a GST rate of 5 per cent and 18 per cent respectively.
Products made of recycled newspaper attract an 8 per cent GST, a representative of the Narela Plastic Welfare Association said.
While plastic products are subject to an import charge of 10 percent to 20 percent, bio-plastic attracts an importation rate of more than 40 percent, Mr Rai said.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
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