New Delhi: A blanket ban on manufacture, sale, storage and use of plastic bags with stiff penalty against violators including imprisonment up to five years will come into effect in the city on Friday.

The government has now imposed the ban as per provision of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, under which violators could face imprisonment up to five years and fine of up to Rs one lakh or both.

"The ban on plastic bags will come into effect tomorrow. All the concerned agencies have been told to ensure implementation of the ban," Delhi Chief Secretary P K Tripathi said.
Environment department officials said the use of plastic cover or pouch to pack magazines, invitation cards and greeting cards will also be prohibited. They said initially government will only focus on plastic carry bags and will not target packaged food and materials.

They said authorities like civic bodies, NDMC, Environment Department and Delhi Pollution Control Committee will implement the ban. Though Delhi Cabinet had decided to go for imposing the ban on September 11, a notification for implementation of the decision was issued a month back giving a deadline of November 22 to stop manufacture, sale, storage and use of the plastic bags.

As per the notification, no person including shopkeepers, vendors, wholesalers, retailers and hawkers will be allowed to sell, store or use plastic carry bags for supply of any goods. Plastic carry bags for use, as specified under the BioMedical Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 1998, will not be covered under the ban.

The Delhi Government had last month ordered traders involved in production of plastic bags to dismantle their manufacturing facilities by the deadline. The manufacturers had gone to Delhi High Court challenging the notification but the court has not pronounced any order on the issue.

As per industry sources, around 400 plastic bag manufacturing units were operating in the city and the total yearly turnover of these units was in the range of Rs 800 crore to Rs 1,000 crore.     

In 2009, the government exercising provisions of Delhi Degradable Plastic Bags (Manufacturing, Sales and Usage) and Garbage (Controlled) Act 2000, had forbidden sale, storage and use of all kinds of plastic bags in certain notified places.

These included luxury hotels, hospitals, restaurants, all fruits and vegetable outlets of Mother Dairy, liquor vends, shopping malls, local shopping centres and all retail and wholesale outlets of branded chains selling different consumer products. The ban, however, did not produce the desired result.

The government then took the decision to go for total ban on plastic bags as the existing ban which did not include anufacturing activities. "We decided to impose the ban under the stringent Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 as the earlier ban was not very effective," said a senior official.


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