Feb. 18: Gauhati High Court today asked Dispur to file its response to a public interest litigation (PIL) alleging violation of the ban on plastic bags in the city.
A division bench of Chief Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel and Justice Arup Kumar Goswami issued notices to the Assam government and Pollution Control Board, Assam to furnish replies to the PIL, filed by Rotary Club of Guwahati.
On behalf of Rotary Club of Guwahati, its president Gajendra Nath Khound filed the PIL (number 21 of 2013), seeking strict enforcement of the ban on manufacture, sale and use of certain categories of plastic bags.
The petitioner’s counsel, G.N. Sahewalla, said the state government and the pollution board have been asked by the court to file their replies in the form of affidavits by April 23, the next date of hearing of the PIL.
The Central Pollution Control Board, the state health and family welfare department, the Guwahati Municipal Corporation, and the district administration have also been made respondents in this case.
The PIL alleged that there had been blatant violation of the ban on use of certain categories of plastic bags, which were banned under the Plastic Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 2011, framed under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.
Despite the ban on plastic bags of less than 40-micron thickness, it is easily available in the city, Sahewalla said.
“It is also mandatory for the manufacturer to write down their names and thickness on the bags, which is not being adhered to. The petitioner has filed this PIL seeking court’s monitoring over enforcement of the rules related to plastic carry bags,” he said.
The Rotary Club also wants the Pollution Control Board to make more stringent rules for giving no-objection certificates to plastic bag-manufacturing units.
“If there can be a total ban on plastic bags in places like Jammu and Kashmir and Chandigarh, why can’t the same be done here?” Sahewalla asked.
There is a state-level advisory body, headed by the secretary of the state urban development department, which is mandated to enforce the ban on plastic bags and send reports to the Centre on its implementation. “But this committee is almost non-functional in Assam and has not even filed the report to the Centre,” the petitioner’s counsel said.
According to him, use of recycled plastic bags for storing, carrying, dispensing or packaging foodstuff is also prohibited.
“There is a need to stop use of polythene to protect the environment. Polythene bags lying in open areas are not only an eyesore, but also make land unproductive. It also causes death of animals if they swallow it,” he said.
“The plastic bags also block drains, which is one of the main reasons for waterlogging in the city,” he added.