The capital’s three municipal corporations will soon clamp down on use of any plastic bags thinner than 50 microns. The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has directed corporations to constitute “vigilance squads to ensure prohibition on stocking, distribution, sale and use of any carry bags of thickness less than 50 microns and sachets or pouches using plastic material”.
But the corporations said they will first inform the public before starting such a drive. “Our implementation plan is ready… but awareness is important. We will wait for at least a month, making the new rules known to the public, and then we will send out vigilance squads,” director of the Environment Management Services, North Corporation, Devender Kumar said.
The directions were issued by the CPCB on September 20, with instructions for implementation within 45 days. But the corporations are yet to ensure full compliance. The new Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016, put the onus of restricting plastic use in cities on local bodies. “Under the new rules, at least 80 per cent of the responsibility to clear out plastic from markets lies with civic bodies, and its implementation will take some time. We will, till the move is sufficiently advertised, hold back legal action against defaulters,” Kumar said.
The CPCB had asked municipalities to make sure that units that produce plastic bags are shut within 45 days. The North corporation informed the CPCB in October that after showcause notices were sent to 484 units identified as being involved in manufacturing and processing of plastic bags, “383 units closed down themselves, 84 units were sealed and 17 are under process”.
Under the new rules, the thickness of plastic carry bags has been increased from 40 to 50 microns with a view that this would increase the cost by about 20 per cent, thereby reducing the tendency to provide free carry bags. A deadline of two years was set by the Centre to phase out manufacture and use of non-recyclable multi-layered plastic.
The notification stated that plastic carry bags will be available only with shopkeepers/street vendors pre-registered with local bodies on payment of a fee.