A ban has been declared in Maharashtra on the use of plastic bags of all shapes, sizes and thickness across the state after they were held liable for choking water outlets and causing unprecedented waterlogging leading to floods that Mumbai saw on July 26. Mumbai alone beared losses of around Rs 4.000 crore, including damage to property in the recent floods. The bags also had an effect on public health. Thus, chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh announced a ban after a weekly cabinet meeting on Wednesday.
The ban will come into force 30 days from the date of notification. But this prohibition will apply only to the use of such bags and not for its manufactures. The plastic bag users can still carry on their business provided they find another market for their product. They will not be allowed to sell these bags in Maharashtra. The ban is likely to delight millions of ordinary people whose daily commute in monsoons goes hay-wire due to frequent water-logging in railway tracks for which haphazard dumping of plastic bags is responsible.
Environmental groups are also likely to be contented but thousands of small-scale units and plastics processors will see a plunge in their business fortunes. Once the ban is in force, traders, retailers and hawkers found using plastic bags will be fined Rs 5000 or asked to pay a fine proportionate to the stock of such bags found with them. Any subsequent offence would attract a three-month imprisonment. The new law also brings common users in its area. This means anyone caught carrying plastic bags will have to shell out Rs 1000 fine. The local self-government has been made in charge for the execution of the no plastic bags drive in their respective territories.