Maharashtra becomes the 18th state to ban plastic bags. But how serious are we?

Maharashtra government bans the use of plastic bags. But the ban won't come into effect immediately

Maharashtra has become the 18th state to ban plastic bags. But the ban won’t come into effect immediately as manufacturers, shopkeepers, traders and users will be given a month to finish their existing stocks.

According to the Maharashtra Plastic and Thermocol Products (Manufacture, Usage, Sale, Transport, Handling and Store) Notification, 2018, the manufacture, usage, sale, storage and transport of products made from plastic and thermocol will be banned with immediate effect across the state.

As per the Indian Express, “the state government has authorised municipal officials, officials from the district collector’s office and Zilla Parishads, MPCB, Health, Education, Tourism, traffic police, state tax officials and others for imposing fines and enforcing the ban.”

Once the ban is implemented, fines of Rs 5,000, Rs 10,000 and Rs 25,000 have been proposed by the government for the first three offences. The maximum punishment is of a three-month jail term. While this is great news, we are a bit skeptical about its implementation. In past, other states that banned plastic haven’t implemented the ban effectively till now. As many as 17 states and Union Territories have banned plastic bags but plastic is still used, laws are flouted and hardly anyone is ever fined. Sikkim was the first state to prohibit the use of plastic bags in 1998. In 2017, National Green Tribunal imposed the existing ban (2009) in Delhi for the third time. And the third time round the ban has proved just as ineffective.