Is this the dawn of Satyug? Has the world started collaborating to move toward a better life on this planet? Over the last decade, decibel levels have risen to address climate change; denuclearization and the impact of plastic on our lives. A better life for all is indeed what Satyug would bring about.
In March 2018 Maharashtra became the 18th state in India, to pass the statewide ban on Plastic bags and other items made of plastic, which are used in day to day lives.
Concerns stimulated Plastic Ban In Maharashtra
The major concerns cited by the Maharashtra state government for imposing the ban were that plastic poses as a major environmental hazard affecting lives of both humans and animals. The bio accumulation of plastic in landfills, water bodies, natural habitats etc. leads to chemical leaching into the human and animal habitat, causing severe environmental and medical complications. Marine animals are posed with greater threat as they are faced with plastic entanglements and ingestion, leading to increased number of marine animal deaths.
Ban on plastic and plastic products, is a welcome initiative taken on part of the government. However, due to the various stakeholders involved, the ban was not implemented completely and a period of 3 months was given as an extension, also the manufacturers were asked to make thicker plastic bags, so that they can be disposed of.
AIPMA action against Plastic Ban In Maharashtra
The All India Plastics Manufacturers Association (AIPMA) and The Plastic Bags Manufacturers Association of India (PBMAI) along with other bodies has countered the ban at the Bombay High Court, citing the huge number of plastic workers losing their daily livelihood, and increasing unemployment. The next hearing for the same is on 23rd June, after the 3 month extension period.
However, following the announcement of the ban, backtracking was done by the government in the form of allowing usage of plastic in Milk dispensing, Hospital instruments, Medicine packets and bottles, PET bottles etc. Thus the way forward for loopholes.
State Government initiative towards Plastic Ban In Maharashtra
The State Government has also started a Special Task force to look into matters relating to plastic ban, and comprises of Government officials, environmentalists and plastic experts. The ban and fine is being imposed through various departments and the process is chaotic, with municipal officials, officials from the district collector’s office and Zilla Parishads, state pollution control board, health, education, tourism ministries; traffic police, state tax officials and others being deployed to impose the ban and collect fine. But there is no clarity on how these bodies will collect fine and monitor the process with limited manpower at their disposal.
Suggestions and Recommendations
With a loss of livelihood being touted as a major factor to oppose the ban, the BMC has started looking for alternative employment and plan to start Self Help Groups along with CSR funds and activities so as to make alternatives for plastic usage, like cloth and jute bags to make sustainable lifestyle choices by people. Also the BMC plans to start awareness drives to make the citizens more aware about their cooperation and participation.
BMC has also advised the plastic bottle manufacturers to set up disposal units, accessible to the public, so as to enable safe disposal. Many such units have been set up, including one at Mantralaya. BMC has also set up bins and placed them at strategic locations, and the collected plastic will be forwarded to recycling units. BMC plans to start a helpline number, so as to communicate with distressed citizens.
Plastics have become such an integral part of our lives. The ban is a welcome move, but the road forward is unclear about effective implementation. Hopefully, the right measures are taken for the larger good of the people and environment.
I have decided to play a small role with some like-minded youth in my locality. We approached the Corporator, Mrs Harshita Narwekar, of our Colaba ward. Under her guidance, we have started an awareness program for “Plastic Free Cuffe Parade”. The action plan is to target the building societies (there are more than 30 of them) and make presentations to the Chairman and Secretaries of these societies to distribute alternatives as dustbin liners. The next step is to target the small shopkeepers in our area with a similar plea. Cloth bags are being looked as viable alternatives.
As the Program Director of Give-Back Foundation, I have arranged 1000 cloth bags to promote their usage during the presentations that we make in our locality.
Kindly go through my presentation:- PLASTIC FREE CUFFE PARADE