A civic official in Maharashtra's Aurangabad city, who went to greet the new municipal commissioner on taking charge on Monday, ended up receiving a Rs 5,000 fine as his welcome bouquet had plastic wrapping. Indian Administrative Service officer Astik Kumar Pandey took charge as Aurangabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) commissioner and head of the civic body's urban development department chief, Ramchandra Mahajan, was one of the many colleagues who came to wish him good luck.
"However, the flower bouquet that Mahajan gave the commissioner had plastic wrapping at the base. Pandey asked his officials from the Solid Waste Management department to recover a fine of Rs 5,000 from Mahajan on the spot," said an official.
The fine receipt was widely circulated on social media later. Pandey was unavailable for comments despite repeated attempts.
Government offices across the country have been making efforts to ban single-use plastic items from their premises after a call for their elimination was made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his Independence Day speech this year.
In June last year, the Maharashtra government imposed a ban on a variety of plastic products, including single-use disposable items, and started penalising all those found using them.
It banned manufacturing, use, sale, distribution and storage of plastic materials such as bags, spoons, plates and other disposable items. The ban also included packaging material and thermocol.
Meanwhile, the National Green Tribunal has directed the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to ensure that no plastic bag less than 50 microns of thickness be manufactured, stocked, sold and used across the country. The green panel also asked the CPCB to ensure that no unregistered plastic manufacturing and recycling unit is in operation and no unit is running in non-conforming or residential areas.
A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel said a national framework for extended producers liability be finalised and enforced as far as possible within three months and a report furnished by the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF).
"Thermocol/polystyrene cups, plates, etc. used extensively and haphazardly littered are properly regulated. Special Environment Squads may be set up for enforcement to oversee and ensure that no litter of plastic waste takes place at historical, religious, public places and dumping of plastic waste on drains, river, banks and sea and no burning of plastic takes place in open," the bench said.
The green panel also asked states and Union territories to submit their compliance reports on the issue of plastic waste management to the CPCB quarterly in a cumulative format, failing which compensation of Rs 1 lakh per quarter shall be levied by the CPCB.
"The CPCB may compile and file its consolidated report on quarterly basis before this tribunal. First quarterly report be filed before April 29, the next date by e-mail," the bench said in a recent order.
The NGT had earlier said there was no proper mechanism for plastic waste management in the country and directed the CPCB to take necessary action in this regard.
The CPCB had earlier informed the tribunal that the import of plastic waste must be restricted as the hazardous waste generated in the country was to the extent of 26,000 tons a day and the same was not properly managed.
The Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016, as amended in 2018, prohibit open burning of plastic waste and permit its recycling only if it conforms to Indian Standard: IS 14534:1998, it said.
The tribunal was hearing a plea filed by Amit Jain, who alleged that cheap waste paper and road sweep waste is imported from the US, Europe, etc., for burning in brick kilns, causing land and air pollution.
"Large plastic waste yards can be seen near recycled paper mills. Import of cheap waste paper is hazardous and is affecting the environment. The import is to the extent of 9,00,000 tons of waste which generates hazardous plastic," the plea said.