Wed, 31 Oct 2012 10:15:00 GMT | By Prathiba Raju/IANS

For a plastic-free Delhi, but not everyone happy

Each of Delhi's 14 million households uses about five plastic carry bags a day, helping generate the capital's hugely polluting 250,000 tonnes of plastic waste every year. Hence the urgency to ban the use of polythene bags, say Delhi government officials.

For a plastic-free Delhi, but not everyone happy (© Reuters)

"In Delhi's 17 million population, there are about 14 million households and each household uses about five to six plastic carry bags a day, which means millions of bags are used and strewn around...Which is a serious problem because it is difficult to collect these littered plastic bags. We need to ban it," a city government official told IANS.

The Delhi government has imposed a "blanket ban" on plastic from Nov 22, under which no person can manufacture, import, store, sell or transport any kind of plastic bag in the National Capital Territory (NCT).

From Nov 22, all kinds of plastic bags, even those used to cover magazines, books, invitation cards, will not be allowed. Garbage bags will not be allowed too.

However, the ban will not affect the use of plastic specified under the bio-medical waste (management and handling) rules, 1998. Plastic used to pack food products such as milk, cooking oil, flour bags and plastic cups largely used by tea vendors will be allowed.

In India, about 5.6 million tonnes of plastic waste is generated every year.

What are the alternatives that people can use?

The Delhi government will promote alternatives such as jute, cloth and recycled paper bags. "Starch-based compostable material as a substitute to plastic will also be encouraged," the official said, adding that the city government "will come out with an awareness programme on the use of such bags".

Shopkeepers found distributing plastic carry bags will be fined. However, the enforcement agencies will spare households for the time being.

"As of now we are concentrating on the ban on plastic bags. We will focus on throwing of plastic bags and segregation of garbage later," a senior Delhi government official who is part of the team authorised to enforce the ban, told IANS.

Some environmentalists feel the Delhi government's "sudden ban" on plastic use is not likely to bring about any change.

Environmentalist Rajeev Betne says a ban on plastic will not solve the problem of plastic pollution.

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