'No company can use plastic in gutkha packing'

'No company can use plastic in gutkha packing'

 The Centre has told the Supreme Court that no company can be granted any relaxation from the rules banning the use of plastic in gutkha packaging even though it wanted to do it for the purpose of export only.

The Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) filed an application seeking modification of an order passed on September 3 last allowing the use of plastic in Gutkha packaging for export. It said that the MoEF was not empowered to grant any exemption under the rules banning use of plastic in Gutkha in any form.

Earlier, the government has in January rebuffed its own senior law officer by contradicting him. Additional Solicitor General P P Malhotra had allowed Baba Global Ltd, a company engaged in making pan masala, gutkha and tobacco, exemption from the operation of the Plastic Wastes (Management and Handling) Rules, 2011.

The law officer’s statement had come after the company undertook that if it was granted exemption under the rules, it would not sell its produce in plastic packaging inside India and such products would be meant for export only.

Now, in a fresh application, the MoEF said, “the petitioner unit has sought exemption, primarily from the rules 5 (d) and 5 (g) after giving undertaking before the Supreme Court. However, the rules do not have provisions for providing the exemption sought by the petitioner units in this matter.”

“The rules after their publication in Gazette of India have been laid down in the Parliament. The MoEF is not empowered to grant exemption from the statutory provisions,” it added.

 In an order, the apex court had on December 7, 2010 restrained manufacturers of gutkha, pan masala and tobacco from using plastic material in the sachets. The direction was ordered to be implemented from March 1, 2011.

Subsequently, the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) notified the Plastic Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 2011 on February 4, 2011, banning use of plastic material in sachets for storing, packing or selling gutkha, pan masala and tobacco.
The rules were further amended three months after to ban use of plastic material in any form in any package of gutkha, pan masala and tobacco.

The deleterious effects of plastic on environment caused by indiscriminate littering of plastic pouches necessitated a prohibition on the use of plastic in packing the products.
The government had earlier said that the manufacturers were in fact required to find out safe alternatives to plastic packing.

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