A day after the plastic ban came into effect in Tamil Nadu, nearly 9-10 tonnes of banned plastic was seized by Chennai Corporation officials.
Teams led by assistant engineers of the corporation have seized plastic carry bags, cups, plates and sheets from several shops. Officials visited Koyambedu market, Asia's largest vegetable and flower market, and T Nagar, the shopping hub of Chennai, and seized the banned products.
There was some confusion as officials and shopkeepers had no clarity on the list of banned products.
The implementation of the ban might soon be visible in many of the shops, where people are switching over to alternatives varying from cloth bags to newspaper and banana leaf.
“All primary packaging materials are allowed. So products that are packed before they reach the market are not banned even if they are single-use plastic,” Shambhu Kallolikar, chairman of Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board told media.
The Greater Chennai Corporation has set up 200 Ward Committees with eight officials from local offices in each committee, and another 15 Zonal Committees to implement the decision. It has also initiated a drive from December 31 to collect the banned plastic items from households and shops through various collection points.
The corporation has also been conducting door-to-door awareness programmes to better implement the government initiative and cover more households in the coming days. An enforcement wing will also conduct inspections in shops to ensure that banned plastic is fully disposed of. The plastic will be disposed of in tar to be used in laying roads.
According to an article by The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), Central Pollution Control Board estimates that Tamil Nadu generates approximately 79,115 tonnes per annum of plastic waste and cities like Chennai and Coimbatore have a mix of 80 per cent of high density and low-density polyethylene waste comprising carry bags, milk pouches and packing films.
Tamil Nadu Plastic Manufacturers’ Association (TAPMA), which filed the petition, called the plastic ban 'discriminatory'. The Association alleged that use of plastics in many government sectors and large-scale private sectors continues, the same is banned for the public and small-scale private sectors.
“The government order bans all forms of plastics packaging including by small retail outlets, grocery shops, whereas the same is permitted for MNCs and FMCG companies. This will hit the businesses of over 200,000 small vendors, hawkers, shops, hotels, restaurants, sweet shops, etc,” TAPMA had said.
The association further pointed out that more than 5,000 plastics industries will be forced to close down and equipment and machines worth Rs 3,000 crore will remain idle. They also said that 200,000 direct workers will lose their jobs, resulting in a GST revenue loss of Rs 1,800 crore annually, as a result of this ban.
But the government refuses to budge from its stand. Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board has already issued legal notices to about 1,400 plastic manufacturing units across the state. The Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) is going all out to stop the entry of banned plastic products into the state.
Minister for fisheries and spokesperson of AIADMK D Jayakumar said that the government will work towards the rehabilitation of all the micro, small and medium scale plastic manufacturers after the ban is implemented.
The state administration has created collection centrers to collect the banned items and is also planning to impose a fine for stricter implementation of the ban.
The TNPCB has also been coordinating with commercial and sales tax departments to keep tabs on inter-state checkposts and block vehicles carrying banned plastic products into the state.