Representatives of the plastic industry on Wednesday gathered at the Gujarat Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) premises to discuss the future course of action after the Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) slapped closure orders on 50 plastic manufacturing units and issued a “notice of direction” against 88 others for not complying with environmental norms.
The notices were issued in the past three-four months, Urvashi Upadhyay, a senior official of GPCB who participated in the meeting, said. The industry was earlier given 15 days’ time to reply to the “notice of direction” before the 50 units were told to shut down, she told media persons after the meeting. The closure notices were served to the units for failing to register with GPCB and failing to provide an action plan to address pollution.
Why govt is insisting on compliance
The plastic industry in Gujarat, with about 10,000 manufacturing units, has been asked to strictly comply with environmental norms. The manufacturers, who employ three lakh people, are opposing closure orders citing job loss and revenue loss for the state. However, senior BJP ministers told manufacturers to comply with the norms. “Plastics pollution is so serious that it has now entered the human food chain and is causing diseases like cancer,” a senior government official said.
Addressing the plastic manufacturers, the GPCB official said that in the past three years, the state government had been trying hard to get the plastic industry to comply with environmental norms but things have been moving at a slow pace. “The stance of the government is clear that it will not tolerate pollution,” she said. “But GPCB is ready to help the industry. We are ready to even hold workshops and it can be held zone-wise to create awareness,” she said. On average, plastic forms about 60 per cent of municipal solid waste, she added.
Each of the units ordered to shut down employs 80-100 people, the plastic manufacturers argued, and blamed the municipal corporations and local bodies for not properly managing plastic waste. They said there were not enough facilities for recycling and that existing plastic recyclers in were in fact unable to acquire enough plastic waste for recycling. However, the GPCB official asked, “If there is no waste, why are the roadsides littered with plastic?”
“Due to the sudden closure of a number of plastic units, we decided to offer plastic manufacturers a platform to discuss the issues and decide the future course of action, including steps needed to counter plastic pollution,” President of GCCI Durgesh Buch said. Members of the GCCI said they would seek six months’ time to comply with the norms.