A vendor in Ranchi gives away a plastic carrybag on Thursday. (Prashant Mitra)
The plastic ban has been banished from the capital till New Year.
Flaunting its bouquet of excuses — ranging from a bureaucratic rejig to a boating disaster — the Ranchi Municipal Corporation (RMC) has decided to postpone implementation of the green rule, prohibiting use of polythene bags below 50-micron density, by at least a fortnight.
On December 3, deputy commissioner Vinay Kumar Choubey had chaired a meeting with district officials and issued an ultimatum to RMC till sixteenth of the month. He had directed formation of crackdown teams at ward levels to impose penalties on offenders and hoisting of hoardings across the city so that the central environment guideline was followed in letter and spirit.
But, the RMC — infamous for its dilly-dallying attitude — did precious little all this while and is likely to make a giant move to enforce the ban before January.
Three days after the deadline expired, Ranchi’s civic bosses made their signature hue and cry for not being able to follow orders.
“So many developments have taken place over the last week. The chief executive officer got transferred; the A2Z controversy reached a climax; and the boat tragedy took place among many other things. We could not plan properly. We will try and implement the ban from January,” said a senior RMC official, not willing to be named.
On the penalty front, he said that though Rs 50, Rs 500 and Rs 5,000 were suggested as fine for plastic offence, the same was never finalised by RMC bosses. Result: rampant use of the non-biodegradable soil and water pollutant.
The countrywide ban on plastic bags below 40 microns was imposed a few years ago, but Jharkhand continued to be a violator in the absence of a state-level action plan.
However, in April this year, the Jharkhand State Pollution Control Board (JSPCB) came up with its own anti-plastic guidelines. The state forest department gave its nod in May and issued a two-month deadline to all districts to prepare for implementation of the ban.
The deadline was stretched twice owing to delay in a formal cabinet sanction for the ban, which finally came three months ago. Since then, the RMC has done little to effect the JSPCB order.
A civic official contended that they had made an earnest endeavour. “In the recent past, we distributed jute and paper bags in different neighbourhoods to generate awareness. Distribution of more such bags are in the pipeline,” he said.
Deputy commissioner Choubey could not be contacted for comments.
RMC’s new CEO Manoj Kumar confirmed their January plan. “I have recently assumed office and am going through all the files. We will enforce the ban from January,” he said.