Plastic ban comes into force in Maharashtra from today

The squad with special jackets that would enforce the plastic ban in Mumbai. (DH Photo)
Highlights: 
For the first time offenders, the fine will be Rs 5,000.
For second time offenders, the fine will be Rs 10,000.
Those who violate it for the third time will face a fine of Rs 25,000, along with imprisonment of three months.

The Maharashtra government's ban on the use of plastic items, including carry-bags and thermocol, came into effect from Saturday across the state.

Under the ban, first-time violators would have to pay Rs 5,000 and second-time violators Rs 10,000. The third violation would attract a fine of Rs 25,000 and an imprisonment of three months. 

The action is being taken under Section 9 of the Maharashtra Non-Biodegradable Garbage Control Act, 2006.

When a fine is imposed, the Aadhaar or PAN would be noted so that the repeat offenders are identified. For shops and establishments, licence number would be noted.

"The intention of the ban is to ensure responsible use of plastic," Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said.

"We have the law and necessary guidelines and we would take necessary action," state Environment Minister Ramdas Kadam said.

Since morning, special squads, including those from the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), were seen moving in market areas.

"There is nothing to worry. People just have to follow the rules," said BMC's Deputy Municipal Commissioner Nidhi Choudhari. "The move would be successful with cooperation from the general public," she added.

In urban areas, plastic waste is a big issue as it chokes up the drains and 'nallahs' creating a mess during the monsoon. 

Over the past few years, during major road and rail disruptions in Mumbai during the monsoon, plastic bottles and bags have been the single largest contributing factor - a fact well acknowledged by the BMC, the Central and Western Railway.

"Plastic is a big issue. We need to understand this...the ill effects, the long-term damage," said naturalist Shardul Bajikar, recalling the July 26, 2005, deluge in Mumbai. "In 2005, we saw the havoc created by Mithi river, in 2017, we saw what Dahisar river did... It's nothing but manmade," he added.

The ban has evoked mixed reactions from the public, particularly from the Mumbai Metropolitan Region.

"We have a fast life in the city, we get down from trains, pick up vegetables and items from the road, take an auto and go home...This means now we would have to carry an extra bag in our office bag," said Vasai resident JP Sharma.

"For items like fish, mutton and chicken, a plastic bag is essential...We are not against the ban but it has to be practical," said Badlapur resident Ashish Sarkar.

Also, the Ganesh festival is just a few months away and most of the decorative items are made of plastic or thermocol.

However, Siddhi Dhamane, a social worker from Vasai-Virar region, had a different take. "Three decades ago, when we were kids, we have seen our parents using cloth bags...plastic bags did not exist then," Dhamane said.

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Plastic ban comes into force in Maharashtra from today

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