Govt rules out blanket ban on use of plastic bags

The Government today ruled out a blanket ban on plastic bags and said waste management at the local level should be improved to ensure that the waste did not become an environmental hazard.

Replying to a question on plastic waste, Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh said in the Lok Sabha that "a blanket ban (on plastic bags) is not advisable."

He said plastic is inherently not a public health hazard, but the inability to collect plastic waste leads to health hazards.

Ramesh recalled that 20 years ago plastic bags were introduced to check deforestation.

He said economic incentives like charging money for plastic bags could dissuade people from using it.

The minister said several pilgrim centres like Tirupati, Dwarika, Sabarimala and Vaishno Devi have banned the use of plastic. Several states like Sikkim, Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh have also banned use of plastic bags.

Ramesh stressed that local administration and state governments should ensure a proper implementation of policies.

Since plastic recycle industry is a source of employment, local authorities at times are reluctant to take action on its use, he said.

Based on a field survey conducted by the Central Pollution Control Board, 15,722 tonne of plastic waste is generated in the country daily.

Similarly, three major railway stations in Delhi generate 6,758 kg of plastic every day, while the waste generated at the domestic and international airports stood at 4,130 kg a day.

To a question on mining and its effects on environment, he said it was necessary to maintain a balance between ecology and development activities.

Ramesh said the Government was taking steps to ensure that activities like mining do not take a toll on the environment.

He said while it was easy to say no to every project, it was necessary to maintain a balance between ecology and developmental activities.

The minister said the Supreme Court has issued various orders and directions for suspension or closure of mining operations in different parts of the country, including Haryana, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh and Goa.

In the context of Aravali in Haryana, the Supreme Court has suspended all mining operations in the range till a reclamation plan, duly certified by Haryana Government, the Environment Ministry and the Central Empowered Committee, is prepared, he added.

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