In a landmark judgment,the Himachal Pradesh High Court on Thursday cleared the decks for a complete ban on sale of potato chips,wafers,kurkure and all other junk food-items packed in non-biodegradable and plastic material. The ban would come into effect from January 26,2014.
The court also vacated its stay on the notification issued by the department of Science,Technology and Environment on June 26,2013 imposing ban on sale,storage,entry,supply and manufacture of these items in the state.
It directed the government to strictly enforce the ban on these non-essential packaged food items,which however will not include drinking water – both packed and mineral.
The order was passed by a division bench comprising Justice Rajiv Sharma and Justice V K Sharma which while hearing the petition filed by some dealers and manufacturers of these items challenging the government’s notification.
The court directed the government to ensure that the edible oils/fats shall not be sold in the plastic bottles or pouches and shall be packed in tin containers. Also,from March 31,2014,the milk and milk products along with edible oils,fats,fruits and vegetables and meat products will be manufactured,transported,sold,packaged and distributed as per regulations of the Food Safety & Standards (Packaging & Labelling) Regulation,2011,the court ordered.
Passing specific directions for the enforcement of the food regulations,the bench ordered the state government to ensure that from March 31,2014 onwards,no food stuff including primary and essential food is manufactured,transported,sold,packaged and distributed without conforming to the Food Safety & Standards Act,2006 and Food Safety & Standards (Packaging & Labelling) Regulation,2011.
The Court also directed the state to appoint a food commissioner,if not already appointed,within four weeks. It also directed the government to ensure that no person is permitted to commence or carry on any food business without obtaining license.
The bench rejected the argument of the petitioners that court had entered into arena of legislation by issuing such orders. The courts do not legislate by pronouncing the judgements and issuing necessary directions. The Courts only recognize and enforce the fundamental,constitutional and legal rights of the parties. The orders were passed by the Court after hearing the parties and weighing all the pros and cons to safeguard health of the citizens and natural environment of the Statethe judgment reads.
The court directed the government to lay down the norms as per Section 3A of the HP Non-biodegradable Garbage (Control) Act,1995 within 12 weeks and to implement Section 7 of the said Act in order to determine new non-essential food items,which are required to be manufactured,transported,sold,packaged and distributed in biodegradable material by constituting a High Power Committee comprising of Officers not below the rank of Principal Secretaries within 12 weeks.
The court gave 12-week time to the government to ensure that necessary bylaws are incorporated in Municipal Corporation Rules,Municipal Council and Nagar Panchayat Rules as per Rule 6 of the Plastic Waste (Management & Handling) Rules,2011 . The municipal authorities throughout the state,including Municipal Corporation,Shimla should ensure safe collection,storage,segregation,transportation,processing and disposal of plastic waste so that no damage is caused to environment.it ordered.
The court also directed all the municipal authorities in the state to manage the plastic waste by undertaking Waste audit at the beginning of the year.
The bench directed all the district magistrates and the superintendents of police to enforce the notification of the ban. “They shall be personally liable and accountable for non-enforcement of the notification,” the court said.
Himachal Pradesh is pioneering in implementing a complete ban on polythene carry-bags and had also won Prime Minister’s award for enforcing the ban.
Here is list of items which will be banned from January 26.2014 in
A list of Non-essential food items banned in non-biodegradable packaging
#Lollypop*/Candy/candybar/toffees/ sweets/ chewingum
#Ice cream & Ice cream candies
#Chocolates & chocolates candies
#Sugary cereals/cornflakes/breakfast cereals coated with sugar
#Deep fried samosas
#Colas & carbonated drinks
#Synthetic & fruit beverages
#Indian sweets i.e. Jalebees,Gulab Jamun,etc
#Gol gappa & other street fruits
#Creamy Cakes & other fruit cakes. (item marked with asterisk are mainly supplied in non biodegradable packings.)