Minister for Forest, Environment and Ecology, Choudhary Lal Singh on Monday said the Government is taking all the possible measures to prevent the State’s environment and ecology getting polluted.
Addressing a press conference at his official residence here, the Minister announced that the Government has put a blanket ban on polythene bags manufactured below fifty (50) microns, in the state w.e.f. April 03, 2017.
The Minister, who was flanked by Chairman State Pollution Control Board, Ravi Kaiser, Member Secretary, SPCB, Regional Director, SPCB, Showkat Choudhary among other officials said the new guidelines and regulations, would facilitate proper recycling of plastic waste, reducing its impact on the ecology. He said besides, the manufacturer’s name and address will now be required to be printed on the bags, failing which, strict action, as per the law, will be taken against them.
Lal Sing said these measures are being taken to curb the still prevalent use of polythene bags that pose serious risk to environment and wildlife. Directions have been passed to all allied departments for successful and strict implementation of this order, he said and added that awareness camps will be organized to educate masses about ill effects of non-biodegradable products.
The Minister said that wanton use of polythene and its unscientific disposal has posed a serious threat to the environment as it takes very long time to degrade. “We would make sure that there is no choking of the drains causing insanitary conditions in the State,” he said. This he said would need all the departments to make the implementation of order successful on the ground level. The Minister informed the journalists that SPCB in collaboration with different departments has seized and confiscated more than 1000 Qtls (100 MTs) of polythene after the issuance of SRO.
He further informed that Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, issued notifications from time to time under Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 under Section 3, 6 & 25 regarding Plastic Waste (Management, Handling) of polythene. “Despite the ban, Polythene Carry Bags and other items continue to be in use in large scale due to its utility and non-availability of alternatives,” he said. However in 2016, the Union Ministry in supersession of previous rules has notified the new rules called the Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016 dated: 18.03.2016, allowing the manufacture and use of polythene carry bags, plastic sheets or like, cover made of plastic sheets, plastic packaging and multilayered packaging having thickness more than fifty (50) Microns. The said rules are applicable to every Waste generator, Local Body, Gram Panchayat, Manufacturer, Importer and Producer.
Pertinently State Government while realizing the adverse impact of use of polythene on the environment had issued SRO 182 dated 18th June, 2008 imposing ban on the polythene carry bags within the territorial limits of J&K under Section 7 of ‘The Jammu and Kashmir State Non-Biodegradable Material (Management, Handling and Disposal) Act, 2007. “Violator of the Act was liable for punishment up to one month or fine of Rs 5000 or both,” he said.
He said for implementation of the Act, Government vide SRO- 243 dated 5th August 2011 and SRO- 353 dated 26th October, 2016 authorized officers across different departments to take cognizance under Section 13 of the Jammu and Kashmir State Non-Biodegradable Material (Management, Handling and Disposal) Act, 2007, but no substantial progress could be made in checking the use of polythene carry bags.
“No person shall manufacture carry bags or recycle plastic bags or multilayered packaging unless he has obtained registration from the SPCB,” he said. “The producer / brand owner shall submit an action plan for buyback/waste collection system based on extended producer responsibility to the Board.”
He further said that Local Bodies shall be responsible for segregation, collection, processing and disposal of plastic waste in urban areas either on its own or by engaging agencies or producers. He said the waste generator shall take steps to minimize waste and segregate plastic waste at source and thereafter handover segregated waste to urban local body or gram Panchayat or agencies appointed by them.
“Every street vendor has to get himself registered with the concerned Municipal body for trading in the products of polythene and pay a fee of Rs 48000 annually for this purpose,” he said, adding that “Each plastic carry bag and multilayered packaging shall have the name, registration no. of the manufacturer and thickness of the material printed on it in English.”