The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Thursday once again “completely prohibited” the use of non-biodegradable plastic bags which are less than 50 microns, with specific emphasis on “plastic carry bags” used in Delhi’s markets. It also imposed a fine of Rs 5,000 if “any person (is found) in possession of such plastic or (who) uses such plastic”. However, the tribunal clarified that this is an interim direction and may be changed after hearing all parties concerned. It also directed the Delhi government to seize the entire stock of plastic across the city within a week.
The tribunal reiterated an earlier ban, which was to make Delhi free from the use of disposable plastic effective from January 1, 2017.
“We must express our dissatisfaction with the way the Government of NCT Delhi has implemented the directions of the Tribunal in preventing and controlling the pollution and environmental degradation resulting from indiscriminate use and dumping of plastic waste…,” the bench headed by NGT chairperson Swatanter Kumar noted. The bench added that the use of such plastic is causing “serious environmental degradation” and harm to public health and animals in the city, besides choking up drains and sewer lines and causing flooding during rainy season.
“Even animals are subjected to diseases and death as a result of consumption of plastic, which is normally mixed with the wet waste they eat,” the bench noted.
The tribunal asked the AAP-government and the Delhi Pollution Control Committee to file an affidavit by a senior-most officer and inform it on how waste management in the city was being implemented, particularly with respect to plastic. Last year, the tribunal had banned the use of disposable plastic in the city with effect from January 1, 2017. On July 31, the tribunal had pulled up the Delhi government over indiscriminate and rampant use of plastic despite the ban. Specifically, the tribunal had banned use of plastic at hotels, restaurants and for public and private functions. It had directed the government to take steps against “storage, sale and use” of such material from January 1 this year.