The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Plastic Bill backtrack

Chennai, Feb. 15: The Tamil Nadu government has withdrawn its proposed legislation banning the sale, storage, transport and use of plastics, which was referred to a select committee of the Assembly last year.

The report of the select committee on the Tamil Nadu Plastic Articles (Prohibition of Sale, Storage, Transport and Use) Bill, 2002, tabled recently in the House, recommended that the legislation be withdrawn because of the complex issues involved.

The legislation had gone beyond “saying no to plastic carry bags” as “use-and-throw plastics are very dangerous” from the environment point of view and “cannot be destroyed”.

Section 4(1) of the Bill said: “No person shall sell, store, transport or use any non-reusable carry bag, tumbler or plate made of, or containing, plastics and such other articles as may be notified by the government in this behalf.”

Even transporting periodicals in plastic wrappers was to be prohibited. Further, no hotel or eatery was to be allowed to use any plastic article.

The Bill kicked up a storm as several lakh people are employed by the plastics industry, especially in the small and tiny sector.

The proceedings of the select committee threw up a whole array of issues. Several members of the panel admitted that it was a “historic” piece of legislation, as no state other than Himachal Pradesh has such a comprehensive legislation. However, some members pointed out some of the “basic difficulties and contradictions” involved in such a legislation.

One of the arguments against bringing in the legislation in its present form was that even the Central Acts do not totally ban the manufacture of carry bags or containers made of plastics. The Tamil Nadu law secretary deposed before the panel that only the use of plastics was being banned and not the manufacture. A panel member, however, said: “There is no point in just banning the use without arresting the manufacture of plastic things; when they manufacture, the tendency of the people will be to use those plastic materials.”

The chairman and managing director of the Nilgiri-based Hindustan Photo Films — the first district in Tamil Nadu to have initiated a green campaign against the use of plastics — urged the select committee to look for substitutes while bringing in a legislation banning the use of plastics.

“That legislation must be implementable soon. It also must not become a burden and cause hardships to the common man,” he said.

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