The Big Ban Failure in New Delhi - Call for Strong Reinforcement to Ban Plastic Bags

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Plastic is killing our planet. There are 500 times more pieces of micro-plastic in the sea than there are stars in our galaxy and by 2050 it is estimated there will be more plastic than fish. Plastic is toxic and it can disrupt hormones crucial for a healthy existence. Even when it is not dangerous itself – or not known to be – plastic acts like a magnet for a range of other poisons and pollutants we have spilled into the natural world.

Plastic bags, measuring less than 50 microns, are banned in Delhi (national capital of India) and, yet, markets are overflowing with them, even choking on them. How will other cities follow if Delhi can't lead by example?

Their use had taken a back seat following a government crackdown in August 2017, after the National Green Tribunal banned their use and imposed a penalty of Rs 5,000 on each offender. But the menace is far from over. With the government and civic agencies loosening their grip, these bags have resurfaced in markets.

Even though the state government claims to have seized thousands of kilos of polythene bags, a visit to any market, local shop or street vendor will reveal that the picture is still as grim as it was 10 months ago before the crackdown began.

We want the Delhi Government especially the Environment Minister and Municipal Corporations to enforce the ban strictly, issue warnings to violators followed by penalties and also, drive mass level awareness on the adverse impacts of plastic bags on our environment.

National Green Tribunal had also directed the government to strictly implement its ban order in the city and sought a detailed status report on the issue. However, the adherence to the ban is really poor.