Himachal Pradesh has emerged as one of the pioneer states for its path-breaking efforts in preserving the fragile ecology of Himalayas. After taking lead in implementing the Carbon Credit Project under Clean Development Mechanism for earning carbon credits in lieu of the environment protection activities, the State Government has taken another significant step ahead to make Himachal Pradesh completely polythene/plastic free.
Keeping in view the harmful effects of polythene and plastic on environment, the State Government has imposed blanket ban on the use of plastic carry bags and plastic items having one time use such as disposable plastic cups, glasses and plates, which are made of non-biodegradable material. This shall come into force with effect from 15th August, 2009 in the entire State.
This decision would curb the wide use and indiscriminate littering of polythene/plastic carry bags and plastic cups, glasses and plates by shopkeepers, vendors, rehriwalas/ chhabawala and would check choking of drains, sewerage and polluting soil, water and air. In addition to this, it would also check defacing of hills and public places thereby preserving the natural beauty of the State. Polythene bags were also being used for delivering food stuffs whose toxic effects cause health hazards too. However no ban has been imposed on Polythene packaging.
The State Government has already enacted Himachal Pradesh Biodegradable Garbage (Control) Act, 1995 in order to prevent throwing or depositing non-bio-degradable garbage in public drains, roads and places open to public view and to regulate the use of non bio-degradable material in the State few years back. Ban on use of carry bags made of non-biodegradable material having thickness less than 70 microns and size 12″x 18″ by stockists, traders, retailers and vendors had already been imposed in the entire State to prevent the multifarious problems resulting from non-biodegradable wastes.
Since this ban had not been effective enough to achieve the expected results, the Government has imposed ban on the use of plastic carry bags and plastic items having one time use under Sub-section (1) of Section 3-A of the Non-Biodegradable Garbage (Control) Act, 1995 and any person causing breach of the prohibition shall be liable for penalties as per the provisions contained in the Act.
All the District Magistrates, Additional Deputy Commissioners, Additional District Magistrates and Sub-divisional Magistrates, Superintendents of Police, Additional Superintendents of Police and Sub-divisional Police Officers/Deputy Superintendents of Police, The Commissioner and Assistant Commissioner, Municipal Corporation, Shimla, all the Chief Medical Officers, Deputy/ Assistant Excise and Taxation Commissioners and Excise and Taxation Officers, Territorial Divisional Forest Officers, Range Officers and Deputy Range Officers, Tehsildars and Naib Tehsildars, Distract and Assistant Tourism Development Officers, District Food and Supplies Controllers in H.P. all the Environmental Engineers, Assistant Environmental Engineers of H.P. State Pollution Control Board and all the Executive Officers of Municipal Councils and Secretaries of Nagar Panchayats in Himachal Pradesh have been authorised for entry and inspection under Section 7 (A) and to compound any offence under the Act.
The criteria fro compounding the penalty under the Act would be Rs. 500 upto 100 gms. Rs. 1500 upto 101-500 gms, Rs. 3000 upto 501 gms to 1 kg, Rs. 10000 above 1 kg to 5 kg, Rs.20,000 above 5 kg to 10 kg and Rs. 25000 above 10 kg quantity of prohibited variety of polythene carry bags and plastic items. In addition to this, a fine of Rs. 5000 would be imposed on littering of plastic waste by any institution/commercial establishment including educational institutions, offices, hotels, shops, restaurants, sweetshops, dhabas, temple complex’s industrial establishment, banquet halls within premises and on roads, streets, hill slopes, drains, forest areas, public parks, all public places and Rs. 1000 for littering of plastic waste by individuals in the premises of any private or commercial establishments.
This far-sighted endeavour of the State Government would contribute in protecting the precious environment of the State by checking the indiscriminate use of plastic and polythene, which was causing harm to the environment and human life.