The Maharashtra Cabinet on Thursday night decided to ban plastic in the state on Marathi New Year Gudi Padwa, which falls on March 18 this year. State Environment Minister Ramdas Kadam had earlier announced the government’s intention to do so in November.
The government plans to ban the use of plastic in two phases. The Maharashtra Environment Department said this includes stopping the use of polythene bags, specified types of plastic sheets, banners and flexes, flags, and plastic and thermocol items such as cups, plates, forks, spoons, glasses and bowls, according to The Indian Express. Plastic used to package food items, including milk, will have to be replaced with environment-friendly options.
“A short-term and a long-term policy have been drafted to tackle the plastic menace,” the newspaper quoted a senior Cabinet minister as saying. The minister added that business in the plastic manufacturing industry will be given enough time to move to other work, for which the government has recommended alternatives.
The Maharashtra Cabinet said it had decided to ban plastic because of environmental and public health concerns, but plastic manufacturers are not convinced. President of the Maharashtra Plastic Manufacturing Association Ravi Jashnani told The Indian Express that the government’s move to ban plastic bags below 50 microns had proved useless as “it is available in the illegal market”. “Even this time around, banning plastic will only create a second market for illegal bags, causing losses to the government,” he asserted.
Days before the ban on plastic comes into effect, a survey conducted in Mumbai found that 43% of shopkeepers in the city were unprepared for the restriction, the Hindustan Times reported. “The findings of the survey suggest that the level of preparedness in the city is very low,” said Father Savio Silveira, the director of NGO GreenLine, which carried out the study along with students of St Xavier’s College, Mumbai.