On Saturday, the plastic ban in the Indian state of Maharashtra came into force. In an attempt to minimise pollution, the state government has introduced a ban on single-use plastics.
The leader of the Yuya Sena political party, Aaditya Thackeray, said on Twitter, "The ban on single use disposable plastic cups, plastic bags, plastic straws, plastic plates and cutlery, styrofoam cutlery and non woven bags". He added, "these are global issues now and we have taken a step to combat it".
Plastic pollution has led to the choking of drains (nullahs), marine pollution and a risk of animals consuming plastics. This year, India's motto for World Environment Day (June 5) was "Beat Plastic Pollution". People violating the plastic ban are to face a fine of 5,000 Indian Rupees (INR) for the first offence. For the second offence, the fine is INR 10,000 and the third time offence is INR 25,000 and a three-month prison term. Deputy municipal commissioner Nidhi Choudhary said, "To weed out corruption, we plan to give inspectors payment gadgets for electronic receipts of the fines".
The Maharashtra government has given a 90-day period for manufacturers to dispose of existing polyethylene terephthalate (PET/PETE) plastic spoons and plates, while shopkeepers and citizens in general have six months to dispose of plastics. However, the ban does not prohibit plastic usage for wrapping medicines or milk cartons thicker than 50 microns.
The state government had announced the decision for the plastic ban on March 23. According to NDTV's report, Maharashtra is the eighteenth Indian state to enforce a state-wide plastic ban. Aaditya Thackeray also said, "I congratulate the citizens for making this into a movement, even before the ban was enforceable, giving up single use disposable plastic."
From today, use of plastic, disposable items and one-time use plastic can't be used anywhere in the state. The ban comes in the backdrop of the environmental risks and harm posed by plastic items to wild animals from ingestion or entanglement, making Maharashtra the 18th state in India to enforce the ban.
Maharashtra generates 1,200 tonnes of plastic waste everyday; Mumbai alone generates 500 metric tonnes of everyday which accounts for nearly 10% of its total waste. While this ends up in the garbage dumps and landfills, a lot of the plastic also ends up clogging drains and in the sea, leading to massive marine pollution around Mumbai.
One lakh marine animals are killed due to plastic every year globally and coastal areas around Mumbai have also seen marine life deaths due to plastic. Versova-based lawyer Afroz Shah, who has been spearheading the beach clean-up since October 2015, has removed over 15 million kg of plastic from just Versova beach along with his team.
Shiv Sena Leader Aditya Thackeray, who has been instrumental in pushing through the ban on single use plastics, called it a "historic step" towards bettering the lives of all citizens and protecting the environment.