Maharashtra government came down heavily on the plastic industry by banning “manufacture, sale, use, distribution and storage” of plastic goods. Though many states and central governments are doing lip service to ban plastics, no one implemented it. Maharashtra is going to lead from the front as a champion of environmental safety. The Mumbai metropolis alone spends millions of rupees clearing the drains filled with plastic waste. Though this is a good news for environmentalists, the common man may get caught unaware as even carrying a plastic bag is also punishable with Rs 5000 fine. The plastic industry is also shocked by the time given to clear the stocks and close the industry without giving alternatives. Several workers will become jobless.
The proposed list includes most of the items that clog the sewage systems and canals, and litter streets, vacant lots etc. The complete list is as follows:
1. Plastic bags(with handle and without handle),
2. Disposable materials made from plastic and thermocol (disposable dish, cups, plates, glasses, fork, bowl, container, disposable dish/bowl used for packaging food in hotels, spoon, straw, non-woven polypropylene bags, cups/pouches to store liquid, packaging with plastic to wrap or store the products, packaging of food items and food grain material, etc).
3. Thermocol items for decoration.
The only exception is given to plastic used for packaging medicines and drugs, milk and handling solid waste.
The penalties proposed are also heavy. First-time offenders will be fined Rs 5000. For second time offenders, the fine is Rs10,000. Those who are caught the third time will be fined Rs 25,000, in addition, are liable to be imprisoned for three months. People found bringing plastic goods into Maharashtra will be imprisoned for three months.
The Maharashtra government has to brace itself for a number of court cases challenging this ruling.