The state government has decided to offer cash rewards to gram panchayats and urban local bodies that make villages and urban areas respectively free of plastic.
Officials from the environment department said the move is aimed at encouraging the participation of local bodies, and involvement of people in the drive. “Three villages will be selected from one revenue division each and the first prize will be Rs 5 lakh. It is to encourage the involvement of gram panchayats and increase people’s participation for effective implementation of the plastic ban,” said Environment Minister Ramdas Kadam.
Kadam said the government is planning similar awards for municipal councils and municipal corporations. “We will have awards for urban local bodies – municipal councils and corporations – but we haven’t decided on the prize amount. The amount is likely to be higher than the reward offered in villages,” he added.
The minister said the criteria for making villages, municipal councils and municipal corporations plastic-free would be decided later. “The guidelines for giving prizes will be worked out after a cabinet decision on the ban on plastic carry bags and bottled water in government offices and star hotels. The ban will begin in March next year. The four teams that went on tour to other states for studying strategies will submit their report soon,” said Kadam.
An official from the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board said the government wants the plastic ban as a people’s movement.
“We are doing a study and making efforts to promote alternatives so that the transition is smooth. The government wants it as a people’s movement,” added the official.
The official said there are six revenue divisions, and three villages will be selected from each. “Every division has its own challenges and we want to give them a level playing field. It will increase competition among them,” said the official.
Another official said the role of local bodies would be important in implementing the ban. “There is already a ban on plastic bags below 50 microns. But there is poor implementation by local bodies. So, steps will be taken for effective implementation,” said the official.