Local bodies in the State can soon start imposing fines on those violating the ban on 14 kinds of single-use plastics, with the government announcing their quantum. The ban, which came into force on January 1, did not have any penal provisions and was enforced using different sections of local body Acts, including “causing malaria.”
The State government has notified the amendments to the by-laws of the respective Acts governing the functioning of local bodies, including municipal corporations and municipalities. Last month, the Governor gave his assent to the amendments under Act 12 of 2019, passed by the Assembly, said sources in the Municipal Administration Department.
Local bodies including the Greater Chennai Corporation have already begun work to set up appellate authorities in case of disputes. Its Commissioner, G. Prakash, said officials including regional commissioners and zonal officers were asked to take up the issue with full vigour.
Storage, supply, transport, sale and distribution of any of the 14 banned items, including carry bags, cups or plates, would attract a fine of ₹25,000 the first time, ₹50,000 the second and ₹1 lakh the third. Similarly, the use and distribution of such plastics in large commercial establishments, including grocery shops and pharmaceutical shops, would attract a fine of ₹1,000 the first time, ₹2,000 the second and ₹5,000 the third. For smaller traders, the fine amounts are nominal and they would be asked to pay ₹100 the first time, ₹200 the second and ₹500 the third. If a person commits the breach for a fourth time, the trade licence shall be cancelled.
Lack of alternative
Following the ban, local bodies had seized the banned items from shops and commercial establishments and manufacturers had stopped production. However, banned plastic carry bags, cups and plates are still found to be in use in many commercial establishments and markets. “No cost-effective alternative has been provided for plastic carry bags. Small vendors, especially those on the road-sides continue to source such bags from the grey market. Unless they are provided with an alternative, the ban will not succeed,” said consumer activist T. Sadagopan.
Source segregation, a key to waste reduction, too is not happening in many places. Bins continue to overflow and canals remain clogged, said a person involved in conservancy operations in the city.