January 22, 2011 9:58:21 PM
M Madhusudan | New Delhi
Despite a popular demand for it, and Delhi, Jammu & Kashmir, West Bengal and Himachal Pradesh having already set a precedent, India will not have a blanket ban on plastic carry bags. The Environment Ministry has instead proposed putting in place a stricter regulatory regime for plastic manufacturers.
If the manufacture of ‘biodegradable’ plastic carry bags is planned to be made mandatory, that too in strict adherence to the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) specifications, the stress is also on ‘better waste management’.
That the Ministry would not go in for a blanket ban was clear on Thursday when it came out with its public notice on its draft notification for the new Plastic (Manufacture, Usage and Waste Management) Rules, 2009.
A senior Environment Ministry official justified it saying, “There cannot be a blanket ban. Except, perhaps for Bangladesh, no other country has it. So, the new Rules have proposed a ban on the manufacture, stock, distribution and sale of any recycled, biodegradable and virgin plastic bags which is less than 18x12 inches in size and less than 40 microns in thickness. It will help in a better post-use collection (by rag pickers).” The Ministry will issue a final notification by factoring in the necessary responses to the draft received in the next 60 days.
The new proposals are in line with Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh’s assertions in the Parliament that a complete ban on plastic would result in felling of more trees as people would switch to paper bags, a by-product of wood. He had advocated the promotion of biodegradable plastic carry bags instead, even as he blamed the municipal bodies for failing to properly dispose or recycle solid waste. Ramesh’s statement had then drawn sharp criticism from Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikhsit.
Focusing more on the plastic manufacturers, the Ministry has now proposed...