Mumbai: Adopting a lenient approach towards allowing residents of Maharashtra to use thermocol items during the festival of Ganesh Chaturthi, state environment minister Ramdas Kadam said that the government may make an exception under the state-wide plastic ban. The minister, who spearheaded the ban, said makers of Ganapati decorations requested him to allow the usage as they had already purchased the items in bulk. They assured Mr Kadam that from next year onwards paper or cardboard decorations will be used.
To ensure that users of thermocol decorations do not take the exception (if made) for granted and misuse it, Mr Kadam has put forward the condition of scientifically disposing the thermocol waste after the festival ends.
I have asked the makers of thermocol decorations to submit an affidavit stating that they will collect all the decorations they sell and deposit them with their respective civic bodies for proper disposal, the minister said during a plastic alternative exhibition held in Mumbai just a day before the ban became effective.
The minister further said that the issue will be referred to the empowered committee which will take the final decision on this, “Once the affidavits are submitted, they will be sent to the empowered committee of the government dealing with the ban. They will discuss this issue and an exemption might be given.”
At the exhibition, innovator or founder of thermocol decorations, Utsavi Charitable Trust was also present displaying alternatives to thermocol. Being one of the 60 vendors to showcase plastic alternatives, CEO of the company Shyam Shendkar said that it is possible to make a switch.
Earlier we used to manufacture thousand kilos of thermocol every month to make decorative items and supply them all over Maharashtra. It was in 2001 when we realised its harmful effects and from then onwards we switched to paper/cardboard temples, Mr Shyam told NDTV.
Talking about the advantages of using eco-friendly materials like recycled paper and cardboard he further said,
These temples are unbreakable and can sustain themselves for ten years. And even if it is disposed of during visarjan, it will take less than two days for the temple to biodegrade. From kids to old people anyone can assemble the temple.
The plastic ban was notified three months ago on March 23 and from June 23 onwards, the ban became effective across the state. The single use plastic items which are included in the ban are plastic bags with and without handle, high quality carry bags issued by malls/shops, plastic/thermocol decorative items, disposable cutlery, plates, bowls, cups etc, non-woven polypropylene bags. Ban is on manufacture, import, usage, transport, distribution, wholesale and retail sale and storage.
Anyone found in possession of the banned plastic items will be fined Rs 5,000 and Rs 10,000 for first and second-time offence respectively. Whereas, a third-time offender will be fined Rs 25,000 and can also face upto three months of imprisonment.