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Single-use plastic ban kicks in; but lack of clarity pervades

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Single-use plastic ban kicks in;  but lack of clarity pervades
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Thiruvananthapuram:  Although the government's ban on single-use plastic has come into effect, clarity is lacking on many aspects of it.  The demand for alternate products has seen a rise,  but on the first day of ban,  Wednesday, not much of effective inspections did take place. 

At the same time, there is a fear prevailing that going out with plastic bags will attract penal action.   And the number of those who have switched to cloth bags and paper packets on the roads,  has also gone up.

There is a lack of clarify on what all constitute single-use plastic. There is an exception now for branded  products,  but if the same kind of plastic is used in ordinary groceries,  it will constitute violation.  Traders take strong objection to it and say it is not acceptable.    Furthermore,  absence of suitable alternatives,  is putting both traders and consumers in a spin.

The take of the traders is that though plastic ban is laudable,  more time should be allowed for its implementation. There was only a notice of 33 days from the date of the order.  As a result, they did not have enough time to clear the stock which they had bought after paying tax. A relief for them in this regard is that there will not be any fine imposed till 15 January.  The chief minister had alerady made it clear that during this inerim period,  an awareness drive would be conducted. 

In some parts,  retailers are reluctant to stock even bottled water out of fear of fine.  A section of traders are of the view that after watching implementation for five days,   they could purchase stocks of water.

The responsibility to oversee the ban activities lies with district collectors,  sub-divisional magistrates,  officers of the state pollution control board,  secretaries of local self-government bodies and officers of the central government.  The instrucion given to officers is to confiscate single-use plastic items if they are seen being produced, sold,  stocked or transported by vehicles.   Violators like manufacurers,  whole-salers,  small-scale traders,  shopkeepers and sellers will be fined Rs 10,000.

The responsibility to collect the fine lies with sub-divisional magistrates,  state pollution control board officials and secretaries of local bodies.  In cases of violation for a second time,  the fine will Rs 25,000 and for a second repeat it will be Rs 50,000,  in addition to canellation of the licence of the establishment.

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