DELHI, India, November 24, 2012 (ENS) - A maximum penalty of imprisonment for up to five years plus a fine of up to Rs. 1 lahk (US$1,800) awaits violators of Delhi's new plastic bag ban, which took effect on Friday.
"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 Thursday.
The Delhi High Court Friday refused to stay the Delhi City Government's October 23 notification imposing a blanket ban on plastic bags from November 23.
According to the notification, no person can manufacture, import, store, sell or transport any kind of plastic bag in the city.
The only exceptions are for plastic bags used in the management and handling of biomedical waste and plastic bags used for packaging foods such as milk, cooking oil, flour and plastic cups used by tea vendors.
The Delhi Government last month ordered plastic bag producers to dismantle their manufacturing facilities by the November 23 deadline.
Chief Justice Darmar Murugesan and Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw declined to hear the appeal of the All India Plastic Industries Association asking that the court order the Delhi government not to implement the ban.
The manufacturing closure required by the ban impacts hundreds of thousands of people employed by the plastic bag industry in this city of 17 million residents.
"The Delhi government in a fanatic pursuit to endorse its pre-determined agenda of completely closing down the plastic bags industry in arbitrary and unreasonable manner, brushed aside the objections of the petitioners," the plastics manufacturers pleaded.
The High Court justices have said they will hold a hearing on the matter on November 27.
In 2009, under court order, the Delhi government issued a similar order, but after initial enforcement drives that netted about 300 violators, the ban was ignored and plastic bags reappeared in stores.
This new bag ban will be different said Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit in September when the city government approved the October 23 notification. "There will be no leniency in implementing the blanket ban and crackdown on violators will be more aggressive this time," she said.
Dikshit said Friday that the government would reach out to create awareness about the issue and try to connect with environmentalists working to make the city free of plastics that pollute the environment.
Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2012. All rights reserved.
Cover photo: "Say No To Plastic Bags" sign in Delhi. Author: baklavabaklava from flickr.com. Licensed by Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC 2.0)