Its been three years since Karnataka took a step forward to ban single-use plastics but the implementation has been tardy. On March 2016, the Karnataka government had banned the manufacture and the sale of thermocol and microbeads. However, the ban has been circumvented as plastic is easily manufactured and available in the market.
The Karnataka government had drafted a notification to ban single-use plastics in the state in October 2015 and the cabinet approved the notification in March 2016 and the ban came into effect soon after.
The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) is now taking initiatives to enforce the ban in a stricter manner. It has now fixed penalties on all those found manufacturing, supplying, storing, transporting, selling, distributing and using plastic in the city.
According to the civic authority, plastics are estimated to contribute to 20 per cent of the 4,000 tonnes of municipal solid waste generated every month in Bengaluru.
The items covered in the plastic ban are plastic covers, cups, spoons, plates, flags, banners, buntings, flex, cling films, items made of thermocol (polystyrene), and non-woven polypropylene bags.
Recently, Bengaluru City Mayor Gangambike Mallikarjun instructed BBMP officials to act against the usage of plastic in the city. Speaking to Indianexpress.com, Mallikarjun said. “Despite banning the use of plastic in the city and conducting raids against the shops using it, many shops are still using plastic. Hence I have directed the officials to conduct drives against plastic usage and also an action plan for this will be prepared soon.”
The mayor launched the drive against plastic across the eight zones of BBMP and officials slapped fines on street vendors and traders for violating the rule. On the first day, the fines of Rs 4.36 lakh were slapped against 559 shops and 439 street vendors for using plastic plates, glasses, spoons, bags and others weighing 1,335 kgs.
We are doing our best to ensure manufacturers are stopped too. Some of these banned items come from other states through the borders. Request Hon’ble Prime Minister Sri @narendramodi ji to implement plastic ban in the whole country 🙂 so that we can have clean cities and country. pic.twitter.com/FKgehouUop
— Sowmya Reddy (@Sowmyareddyr) July 17, 2019
Earlier this week, the Bengaluru Mayor alongwith officials conducted meetings with schools and colleges to take up awareness drive among students to avoid using plastics.
The BBMP has also notified fines for various offences as follows:
For manufacturing the banned plastic items: For the first offence the fine is Rs 2 lakh and for the second and subsequent offence is Rs 5 lakh.
For storing the banned items: For the first offence the fine is Rs 1 lakh and for the second and subsequent offence is Rs 2 lakh.
For trading, retailing, selling of plastic items: For the first offence the fine is Rs 50,000 and for the second and subsequent offence is Rs 1 lakh.
For using banned plastic items for domestic use: For the first offence the fine is Rs 500 and for the second and subsequent offence is Rs 1,000.
For commercial use: For the first offence the fine is Rs 25,000 and for the second and subsequent offence is Rs 50,000.
The BBMP has so far seized 3,921 kg of plastic from Jan 2019 to May 31 and levied a penalty of Rs 16.12 lakh. In the year 2018-19, the BBMP had seized 1,21,637 kg of plastic and levied a penalty of Rs 73.90 lakh.
In Karnataka, the responsibility to enforce the plastic ban is on the shoulders of the deputy commissioners and revenue officials in districts, health officials and commissioners of local bodies, BBMP health department officials and the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board.
The plastic ban excludes items like water bottles, sachets for milk and oil, the plastic used for growing nursery plants and plastics used for IV fluids in hospitals.
BBMP Commissioner N Manjunath Prasad has issued a circular, banning plastic water bottles in all BBMP programmes. “Single-use packaged drinking water bottles and other single-use plastic disposables are banned in all the BBMP offices, including the head office, and also in all public programmes organised by the BBMP,” the circular read.
Speaking to Indianexpress.com, BBMP Special Commissioner (Solid Waste Management) Randeep D said, “Including the council meetings, in all the BBMP official meetings and programmes, plastic materials used for serving food and water, including the single-use packaged drinking water bottles, are banned. BBMP is only using steelware.”
Last year September, the Bengaluru civic body had also issued special guidelines to wedding and banquet halls, banning plastic and had recommended the use of steelware.
Despite such measures and good intentions, the plastic ban is flouted with ease and without a fear.
“This is a good decision by the civic body but it should be strictly implemented. Implementation is the key, not intentions” says Vijay Nishant, an environmental activist.