State Environment Minister Ramdas Kadam on Tuesday gave milk dairies 15 days to submit a detailed plan to put in place a mechanism for buyback of milk pouches from consumers.
Officials from the environment department said a meeting of an empowered committee, headed by Kadam, was held on Tuesday to review the implementation of the plastic ban across the state. The meeting was attended by Minister for Labour Sambhaji Nilangekar-Patil, member secretary of Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) E Ravendiran and officials from the MPCB.
“Milk dairies were given time till February to submit the detailed buyback mechanism plans, but they failed in doing so. It has been more than three months but there is no response from them. So, they will be now given 15 days time to submit the plans and no further extension will be given to them. After 15 days, action will be taken against them as per the norms for non-compliance,” Kadam said.
As per the plastic ban notification, issued by the Environment Department on March 23 in last year, milk dairies should use plastic bags not less than 50 microns in thickness for milk packaging. Besides, they should print a buyback price of not less than Rs 0.50 per pouch, to develop a buyback mechanism for recycling these pouches. The dairies were expected to set up such a mechanism by July 11. In December last year, Kadam had given them two more months time to submit the plans.
Kadam said that the MPCB would issue notices to the milk dairies in next few days asking them submit the plans within 15 days. “To ensure the effective implementation of the plastic ban, the review meetings will be held revenue division-wise in coming days,” he added.
An official from Environment Department said that they would check if any relief is granted by any court to the milk dairies before taking the final decision on the issue. Besides, the High Court had asked the state government to take a stand on plastic water pouches following a petition by the few companies.
On Tuesday, it was decided not to provide any further relief to dairies. So, the department will reiterate in the court about the ban on water pouches,” the official added.
Meanwhile, Prakash Kutwal, secretary of the Milk Producers and Processors’ Welfare Association, said the government should not take harsh stand on the milk dairies as the farmers are facing severe drought across the state. “We expect government to be soft on us due to drought before taking any decision. We are ready to implement the buyback mechanism, but want the government to show us a pilot project which can be replicated by all dairies,” Kutwal said.