Chennai: Chennai figures among the top 10 largest plastic waste producing cities in the country. Union environment minister Prakash Javadekar’s announcement in Parliament that Chennai is behind only Delhi as a generator of plastic waste is a wake up call for the state environment department.
Greens complain that the state government allots crores of rupees every year for awareness on dangers of using plastic but fails to arrive at any firm policy decision to ban plastic by a suitable law.
Quoting the study by the Central Pollution Control Board and Central Institute of Plastic Engineering and Technology for 60 cities in the country during 2010-11, Mr Javadekar said, “Ten cities - Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata, Mumbai, Bangalore, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Surat, Kanpur and Pune - generate more plastic waste.” He said the ministry has notified the Plastic Waste (Management and Handling) Rules 2011 despite which waste generation was not regulated in the cities.
Officials in the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board say that they carry out regular raids to check the manufacturing of plastic covers below 40 microns. They also involve school children to act as messengers informing families to avoid the use of plastic. But their powers are limited as generation and usage of plasticare not banned.
“We cannot take any strong action against manufacturers except closing their shops if they produce plastic covers below 40 microns. There is always a possibility that the trader would set up his shop in a different locality or state and continue to involve in reprocessing plastics. Unlessplastic carry bags and packaging materials are banned, the menace would continue to exist,” say officials.
Social activist A.Narayanan, who moved the Madras high court seeking a ban on the manufacture, distribution and usage of all types of plastic bags and throwaway plastics said, “Irrespective of size and thickness, the government should ban the manufacturing of plastics. If manufacture is banned, where is the question of generation of plastic waste?"
He said manufacture, trading and use of plastics up to 60 microns should be banned through a strong legislation and effective implementation, as promised in the Governor’s address in 2011. He said the draft Tamil Nadu Throwaway Plastic Articles (Prohibition of Sale, Storage, Distribution and Transport) Bill in 2003 remains in in cold storage.