Chandigarh goes polybag-free, amidst mixed response from society

October 3rd, 2008 - 7:36 pm ICT by IANS  

Chandigarh, Oct 3 (IANS) Initiating another environment friendly step, the union territory of Chandigarh has imposed a complete ban on the use and sale of polythene bags in the city with effect from Oct 2.The notification in this regard was issued July 30 by the department of environment under Section 5 of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.

“The orders have strictly banned the use, storage, import, selling, transportation and disposal of polythene and plastic carry bags by any person in the city. No shopkeeper, vendor, wholesaler, retailer, trader or hawker can use polythene anymore,” a senior official told IANS.

People here have to switch over to other eco-friendly alternatives of polythene bags and there are stern provisions of punishment for the violators, pointed out the official.

“At this juncture of time, polythene is the biggest hazard for our environment. This ban was the need of the hour as they interfere with the fertility of land, maligns our ground water and are the biggest threat for both flora and fauna,” said Rohit Ruhella, president of Environment Awareness Society among Youth (EASY), a non-government organisation.

Moreover, this ban will add new life in the dying small-scale industry of paper bags and jute bags, said Ruhella.

However, there are people in the city who have termed this ban on the use of plastic as illogical and irrational decision of the administration.

“This is just a publicity stunt of the administration and this decision cannot survive for long. Normally a plastic bag used by shopkeepers cost anywhere between Rs.1 to Rs.5, but jute or paper bag costs at least Rs.7,” said a member of Chandigarh Plastic Manufacturers’ Association on the assurance of anonymity.

“The administration has taken this decision hurriedly, ignoring the interests of traders and common persons. This move can also enhance inflation, as the traders would increase the commodities costs to cover up the increase cost of carry bags,” said Raghuvansh Singh, owner of a Verka milk booth here.

He added: “We are facing a lot of trouble in our business as very few people bring their own bags and till now we have not found any alternative to the plastic bags”.

Violators of this act can be given rigorous imprisonment extended up to five years or fine of Rs.100,000 or both depending on the extent of violations.

For the habitual violators, an additional fine of Rs.5,000 per day shall be imposed and there are provisions of imprisonment up to seven years depending upon the violation, stated the official.

Besides, packaged commodities including milk products and grocery items have been exempted from this Act.

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