AS the Maharashtra government gears up to enforce a ban on plastic carry bags and single-use plastic items from Saturday, state environment minister Ramdas Kadam said adequate precautions are in place to ensure that common people and small traders are not harassed. He said strict action would be taken against plastic manufacturers if they are found violating the ban.
On Friday, Kadam was speaking after a review meeting with officials of the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board on the ban. Shiv Sena leader Aaditya Thackeray was also present.
Kadam said: “We will take precautions to ensure that common people and small traders are not harassed. But strict action would be taken against manufacturers with an aim to stop circulation of plastic in the market. Then there will be no need for us to impose fines on people or traders.”
He added that an extensive awareness campaign would be carried out over the next eight days to make people aware of the banned items. “There is no relaxation in the fine amounts,” Kadam added.
“Almost 80 per cent of plastic required (in the state) is produced in Gujarat and it is being brought into Maharashtra illegally. Henceforth, if any plastic is brought into Maharashtra from any state, strict action would be taken,” the minister said, adding that around 1,200 tonne of plastic is generated in Maharashtra that damages the environment.
Commenting on the demand from an extension for thermocol manufacturers and traders seeking permission to sell their stock till Ganesh festival in September, Kadam said some Marathi youths met him regarding on Friday.
“They stated they have already invested in it. If they give us an affidavit stating that all items will be collected and given to the civic body for disposal then a decision on the extension can be taken by the Empowered Committee,” he said.
Kadam added that the state government is also considering some extension on the use of plastic packaging by retailers. “If they give us a concrete plan for collection and recycling of plastic material, then it will be discussed in the committee,” he added.
Aaditya Thackeray said the decision to ban plastic was not taken overnight.
“Preparations have been going on for nine months. There is already a lot of awareness among the people and only wilful offenders are worried about fines,” said Thackeray.
Meanwhile, the Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) has donated four bottle crushing machines at railway stations, two at Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus, one at Churchgate and the other at Mumbai Central.