Plastic banned, but can a lethargic BBMP enforce it?

Plastic banned, but can a lethargic BBMP enforce it?

Palike not geared up for challenge, will act only next month

Plastic banned, but can a lethargic BBMP enforce it?

The State government may have banned all plastic items irrespective of their thickness with effect from March 11, but the Bru­h­at Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) is still not ge­a­red up to enforce the ban.

The government issued a gazette notification on Friday, banning the manufacture and use of all kinds of plastic items such as carry bags, banners, buntings, flags, flexes, plates, thermocol cups and spreading sheets. The ban has been imposed under Section 5 of the Environment Protection Act, 1986.

The notification has empowered the Palike’s top administrative officials to enforce the ban in Bengaluru. Elsewhere, deputy commissioners, health officers, members of local bodies, assistant commissioners, tahsildars, environmental officers of the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board and officials of the Commercial Taxes and Food and Civil Supplies departments have the power to enforce the ban. The violators will be booked under section 19 of the Environment Protection Act.

The BBMP is, however, yet to fix the penalty for violators. Mayor B N Manjunatha Reddy told Deccan Herald on Sunday: “The violators will be fined, but how much is yet to be decided. Those who dispose garbage in plastic covers will be fined, too.”

Reddy said the drive to seize plastic items in all parts of Bengaluru would be intensified only in April, since BBMP officials were currently busy in preparing the budget for 2016-17. Before the notification, the Palike was busy creating awareness among the public to avoid plastic covers. The mayor said that the effective implementation of the ban lied in the hands of the public.

“We want citizens to co-operate. They should stop depending on plastic and instead go for jute/cloth bags that are available in the market,” he said. In October 2015, the Department of Forest, Ecology and Environment had issued a draft notification on the plastic ban, inviting objections and suggestions from the public within 30 days. It received nearly 1,600 objections and suggestions. Accordingly, it made certain modifications to the draft. The Cabinet recently approved the final notification which was gazetted on March 11, 2016.

Plastic makers to lose licence

The Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) is prepared to implement the government order on banning plastic, said its chairman Lakshman. “There are about 300 plastic manufacturers. We will issue them notices and cancel their licence,” he said. A meeting is scheduled for Monday where alternative measures will be sought from the traders and the public.

“A squad of environmental engineers will control the illegal supply of plastic from neighbouring states. We will regulate the manufacturers while the BBMP will look into stock clearance,” Lakshman said.

Traders plan indefinite protest

The Karnataka State Plastic Traders’ Association has planned an indefinite protest against the ban on plastic. Its members will shut up shop as a mark of protest on Monday and plan the future course of action.

“We will go to court seeking a stay on the ban. When the Central government has not done it, why the hurry? The Karnataka government is not able to recycle plastic waste while other states are doing it,” said the trade body’s general secretary, Suresh Sagar. 

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