New Delhi: On December 6, 2017, at third United Nations (UN) Environment Assembly, held in Nairobi, Kenya, 193 nations including India pledged to work towards a sustainable lifestyle and a planet free of plastic and pollution. Plastic bags, bottles, pens, and other plastic products are not only choking seas and oceans around the world, but overburdening landfills as well. India is one of the top 20 countries to dump plastic into the oceans. But to change this state, different states and cities have come up with different rules laws and regulations. Here are some of the examples of how India is fighting against plastic-
1. Maharashtra Bids Adieu To Bans Almost All Kinds Of Plastic Products
On March 23, India’s second most populous state became the 18th state in the country to ban plastic after the government issued the Maharashtra Plastic and Thermocol Products (Manufacture, Usage, Sale, Transport, Handling and Storage) Notification. From plastic bags to single use plastic products like spoons, cups, straws, plates, glasses, bowls used for packaging food, almost all the plastic products come under the state ban. Some items like plastic bags or plastic that is used for packaging purpose of medicines, food grade virgin plastic bags not less than 50 micron thickness used for packaging of milk are exempted for now.
The ban applies to one and all and the violators will have to pay a hefty amount as fine. While the first and second time offence will attract Rs. 5,000 and Rs. 10,000 respectively, the third-time offender will be fined Rs. 25,000 and can also face an imprisonment of three months.
2. Delhi, The National Capital, Follows The Ban
On December 2, 2016, National Green Tribunal (NGT) directed a ban on disposable plastics in Capital Delhi with effect from January 1, 2017. This was done with a hope to tackle the environmental damage caused by plastics. But, the implementation of the ban was nowhere to be seen. On August 10, NGT imposed an interim ban on use of non-biodegradable plastic bags which are less than 50 microns, that’s less than an average human hair, in the entire national capital. Anyone found violating the rule will have to pay a compensation of Rs. 5,000. Following the NGT order, within the first two months of the ban, 30,000kg of plastic bags were seized in the city.
Since the order, the ban has not been implemented successfully, reason being, local municipal corporations which are responsible for enforcing the ban effectively, cite problems like lack of manpower, resources and budget.
3. Green Protocol In Kerala Gives Festivities A Makeover
As part of Kerala’s Haritha Keralam (Green Kerala) mission since 2014, various steps have been taken to ensure that neither plastic is used nor waste is generated during different festivals. Of all the initiatives, two of the most popular and effective initiatives are ‘Green Protocol’ and ‘Green Weddings’. Green Protocol is essentially a set of measures which when implemented results in significant reduction of waste with primary focus on prevention of use of disposables. Under this, hotels, restaurants have stopped using plastic straws. Weddings are organised in a way where the usage of plastic and other non-degradable items are prohibited. ‘Green Protocol’ has gone so big that a village in Kannur, India’s first plastic free district, decided to give marriage certificates only if green protocol is followed.
4. Jammu And Kashmir Starts With ‘Reduce’
From possessing both summer and winter capital to beautiful mountainous terrain, stunning landscapes and shrines, Jammu and Kashmir is surely on every tourist’s wishlist. The state generates more than 700 tonnes of waste daily and to bring down this figure down , the J&K High Court on April 4, 2018, ordered a ban on polythene. In line with this, the government has declared all tourist destinations and resorts in the Valley and Ladakh region as ‘no-polythene’ zones. Along with this, the use of non-biodegradable plastic has also been banned. As per the recent order, use of polythene and disposable plastic at tourist destinations and properties would lead to cancellation of the operator’s licence.
5. Sikkim, The First State To Wag A War Against Plastic
Sikkim, in 1998 became the first Indian state to ban non-biodegradable materials like plastic bags and single-use plastic bottles. In 2016, Sikkim took a step further and banned the use of packaged drinking water in government offices and government events. Further, to bring down the amount of garbage generated and cut down the toxic plastic pollution, the state banned the use and sale of Styrofoam and thermocol disposable plates and other cutlery items like spoons, cups, glasses, and so on. Sikkim is the only state that has successfully implemented the plastic ban.