MUMBAI: The government shall take a strict action against plastic manufacturers even though small traders and common man may be spared, Maharashtra environment minister Ramdas Kadam said here on Friday while addressing a press conference on the eve of enforcing the plastic ban across the state.
Kadam also reviewed the state's preparedness to strictly enforce the ban at a high-level meeting of officials from the state pollution board. Kadam directed the officials to gather data on generation of plastic waste and the recycling processes that are used from all the towns across the state within a week. He also directed officials to act against shopkeepers at tourism centers as well as religious places who are found using plastic carry bags.
"I've asked the officers to seal all the plastic manufacturing units running without proper permits. I've asked the to search godowns where plastic goods are stored and seal them. We are planning extensive awareness campaigns to warn people about the banned items and shall also take precautions to ensure common people and small traders are not harassed. However strict action will be taken again plastic items manufacturers," the minister said while appealing people to cooperate in enforcing the ban.
There will not be any relaxation in the fine amounts and that the penalty for the first time, second time and third time offenders will be Rs 5000, Rs 10,000 and Rs 25000 plus a jail term for three months respectively, Kadam said.
The minister also said that 80 per cent of the production happens in Gujarat which is illegally brought to Maharashtra.
"Henceforth, anybody caught bringing in plastic here will be directly imprisoned for 3 months. Changes will be made in the laws to this effect," he added. Commenting over demands of an extension for use of thermocol items during upcoming Ganpati festival, Kadam said, "some Marathi youngsters met me and requested that they be allowed to use thermocol items in Ganesh festival this year as they have already invested in it. This proposal will be discussed in the meeting of empowered committee and they may be given leeway, if they give the government an affidavit that the items will be recollected and submitted to the BMC for disposal.
"When asked to comment over the prevailing confusion over packaging of plastic, Kadam said retail packaging companies have been given an extension of three months to submit an undertaking over recycling of plastic materials.Maharashtra generates 1200 tonnes of plastic waste every day, the minister said and added that before issuing the notification, the government has studied the ban in 6 states and in Maharashtra as well meetings were conducted in all Revenue circles.While Maharashtra government had issued a notification on March 23 announcing the plastic ban, the Bombay High Court had refused to stay the ban on April 13 while ensuring a reprieve for common man for three months.