CHENNAI: A division bench of the Madras High Court has directed the State government to give up the practice of supplying Aavin milk in plastic covers and follow the old method of using bottles or any other means. The bench of Justices R Subbiah and Krishnan Ramasamy gave the direction while dismissing a batch of public interest writ petitions from Chennai Non Wovens Private Limited in Ambattur Industrial Estate and 29 others, on Thursday.
The PIL sought to quash a GO dated June 25 of the State Environment and Forest department and a consequential letter dated December 8, 2018, in so far as it banned non-woven polypropylene carry bags and consequently direct it not to interfere with the petitioners’ manufacturing, storing, supplying, trading and selling of the products, irrespective of GSM.
“We, therefore, direct the government to implement the banning of all multi-layered plastic wrappers and covers, which are meant for one-time use and throwaway, so as to make the ban effective and meaningful. The government can also explore alternatives for supply of Aavin milk through bottles or any other means, which was hitherto followed in the State, instead of using the plastic cover,” the bench said.
The bench also observed that the State government had banned one-time use of plastic and other similar products with effect from January 1, 2019, with an avowed object to make the environment a plastic-free one.“We feel that the ban is neither effective nor complete. In spite of the ban, one-time throw-away plastics are freely made available or accessed for being used,’’ the bench said, adding that the order which is impugned in these writ petitions, banning one-time use of throwaway plastics, can, therefore, be construed to remain only in paper owing to its poor implementation.
Stressing on the importance of levying fines, the bench said: ‘’Unless hefty fines are imposed on the suppliers or stockists, the ban cannot be claimed to be effective or complete. The State should promote alternative products such as cloth or jute bags for being used by one and all, in the larger interest of protecting the environment from being hampered.’’
‘’By allowing the citizens of this State to continue to use one-time use and throw plastics, it would only adversely affect the ecology of the State. The State is duty-bound to enforce certain stringent measures to protect the environment and the decision to impose a ban on one-time use and throwaway plastics, is one of the steps taken in that direction,” the bench said.
The bench added that slowly and steadily, plastic had infiltrated and intruded into the daily lives and the large scale use of plastic, for the purpose to which it was not intended to, had in fact sounded a death knell to the ecology and environment.‘’By virtue of burgeoning use of plastics for all purposes, it resulted in mounting of garbage strewn all through the lanes and by-lanes of the streets and the Municipal authorities throughout the State find it an uphill task to deal with the situation,’’ said the bench.