Plastic ban yet to be implemented in Guwahati

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Plastic ban yet to be implemented in Guwahati

Saumya Mishra | June 01, 2019 19:15 hrs

GUWAHATI: Even after close to a month having passed since the Hon’ble Governor of Assam issued an official notification for banning plastic and polythene in the state, the ban is yet to be implemented in Guwahati.

A notification dated April 29 was issued by the Governor and the environment & forest department. It officially put a ban in Assam on manufacture, supply, storage, transportation, sale, carriage, distribution and use of plastic carry bags, plastic banners, buntings, flex, flags, plates, cups, spoons, cling films and plastic sheets for spreading on dining tables.

The government had prohibited the use of plastic mentioning that it causes serious short and long term environmental as well as health hazards for humans and animals.

However, the various implementing authorities and government departments are unaware of the official ban or have not received the notification till now resulting in the delay of its implementation. 

Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) commissioner, Debeshwar Malakar, said that they are currently in the process of verifying the rules of enforcing the ban.

“I have heard that an order has been issued regarding plastic ban by the government of Assam and I have already entrusted one officer to see what powers can be exercised by the GMC in this connection and the rules regarding the same. We are considering it after clarification of the relevant roles,” informed Malakar.

He added that the GMC will be organising a mass awareness campaign in June in all 31 wards of the city. “Our primary aim through these campaigns will be to persuade residents to not use plastic especially in public places, schools, colleges, offices and even in their own houses.”   

Additionally, the GMC has also recruited 50 municipal police (in addition to the already existing force of 25 personnel) recently to oversee the enforcement of all the municipal laws under the municipal body.   

Malakar further added that in his experience, the major causes of river pollution are polythene, plastic mineral water bottles and thermocol boxes used by fish sellers.  

“We are also going to send a pamphlet to all the housing complexes in Guwahati. We have already drafted one letter which will be issued in the coming weeks appealing that they should have their own solid waste management system,” said Malakar. 

Talking about the waste management system in Guwahati and the new apartment complexes, he informed that the GMC is mulling on modifying the rules and keeping a clause of an existing solid waste management system in the apartment complex before issuing permission. 

Further, the deputy commissioner of Kamrup (Metro) district was also not aware of the ban on plastic and polythene and said that he had not received or seen the notification as yet.

On the other hand, a senior official of the Pollution Control Board of Assam confirmed that the notice was authentic and had been issued by the government on April 29.   

Confusion among traders regarding plastic ban

Issuing directions on imposing the ban, the state government ordered that no person including the shopkeeper, vendor, wholesaler, retailer, hawker, salesman or customer shall use plastic carry bags and other mentioned items made of plastic.    

The official order states, “It is observed that the plastic wastes is also causing blockage of drains, sewers and gutters apart from resulting in pollution of water bodies in urban areas as well as rural areas.”      

Further, the traders of Fancy Bazar, too, were unaware of the ban issued by the government.

“I have not heard about any plastic ban ordered by the government. If this ban will have any impact on my sales or trading, then it is very important for me to know about it,” a trader in Fancy Bazar, Anirudh Siotia, told G Plus.

Another city-based businessman informed that the government should first consult the traders before taking any concrete steps in this direction. “We must first have all the information related to the plastic ban. Only then can we decide if this will be in our favour or not,” he said.    

On the other hand, the GMC commissioner said that if they are among the implementing authorities for banning plastic, the municipal authorities are going to take very strict steps to ensure proper implementation. 

“We will first issue notices to wholesalers and retailers to stop selling it. Then we will also impose fines, if we are given the powers to impose them,” said Malakar.

He further said, “If the traders, even after two fines, do not stop selling polythene, then we will take appropriate steps for cancellation of their trade licence too. But everything will depend upon the relevant laws.”      

He added that flooding which plagues the city every rainy season is primarily because of plastic bottles and polythene which chokes the drains in the city.  

As per a report published on the eve of World Environment Day in 2018, Guwahati generates 37,000 kgs of plastic waste every day - about 12.37 percent of the entire state’s production.

According to the report, compiled coinciding with the theme of last year’s environment day, “Beat Plastic Pollution,” by a Guwahati-based NGO called Environ, Assam produces 2.99 lakh kgs of plastic waste every day.

This means that the city will generate about 13,505 tonnes of plastic waste this year. This has increased almost seven times over the last 14 years from 1,825 tonnes in 2014.

Due to the lack of a sewerage system in Guwahati dedicated to cater to garbage that also contains plastic, most of the plastic wastes that otherwise could be recycled, get wasted.

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