If you think the 5p Plastic Carrier Bag tax is a bit steep, spare a thought for the residents of Delhi, India, who could face five years imprisonment if they are found to be manufacturing, storing, selling or using plastic carrier bags of any kind.
A statement released by the chief minister of the Delhi region, Sheila Dikshit, revealed that the government plans to impose a ‘blanket ban’ on all plastic made carrier bags, magazine covers and sleeves for greeting cards, in an environment-friendly initiative to clean up the national capital.
While the announcement was greeted with immediate scepticism due to the government’s failure to enforce previous restrictions, Ms Dikshit said there would be, “no leniency this time” and that, “plastic bags were bad for the environment and had endangered public health by blocking sewers.”
In 2009, Delhi introduced a law banning “very thin plastic bags of less than 40 microns thick” but found it to be widely ignored by the city’s residents due to loopholes. Ms Dikshit confirmed that this latest law would be enforced under the Environment Protection Act 1986, and those found violating the rule could face a fine of RS 1 lakh (approx £1200), up to five years in prison, or both.
To prevent any misunderstandings, the government issued document clearly states that “no person, including a shopkeeper, vendor, wholesaler, retailer, trader and hawker, shall sell, store, or use any kind of plastic carrier bag for storing or dispensing eatables or non-eatable goods or materials”.
The nationwide ban is expected to come into effect “soon” and extends to carrier bags made of virgin or biodegradable plastics, with only plastic bags specified under the Bio-Medical Waste Management and Handling Rules being exempt.
So if you are heading to Delhi, India anytime soon, don’t forget to take your paper carrier bag!