Monday, July 19, 2010

Indian State of Rajasthan Bans Plastic Bags

Photo courtesy: Claude Renault (Away) via flickr

India’s largest state, Rajasthan, has become the latest place to completely ban plastic bags. The ban has been put in place due to “both the short-term and long-term environmental hazards” of plastic bags.

One of the main reasons is the plastic bags are blocking sewer lines, drainage systems and water distribution pipelines increasing malaria and dengue fever in Rajasthan. All that lovely, stagnant water is a mosquito's dream home.

One of the other side effects of plastic bags blocking the drains and sewers showed itself in Mumbai in 2005. When the monsoon season arrived, the drains and sewers could not drain off any of the massive amounts of rain being dumped on the city. Over 1000 people died in the resulting flooding.

Perhaps the most compelling reason for the ban is that in India the cow is considered sacred; and, wander unchecked and unhindered in India. Unfortunately, they often asphyxiate themselves while trying to eat the bags.

“No shopkeeper, retailer, trader, hawker or vendor will be allowed to supply goods to consumers in these carry-bags” beginning August 1, 2010 in Rajasthan, according to The Hindu. The ban is also on “manufacture, storage, import, sale and transport of plastic carry-bags.”

Rajasthan is taking this ban extremely seriously. Break this law and offenders face imprisonment for 5 years, a fine of up to Rs100,000 ($2,146), or both. In addition, repeat offenders could be penalized a further Rs5,000 ($107) a day. These consequences are incredibly severe in a country where many people live at or below the poverty level.

While Rajasthan is not the first place in India to institute a plastic bag ban, enforcement in other places hasn’t proved to be easy so far.

“The provinces of Kerala, Sikkim, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra all have bans on plastic bags in place but so far they have proved difficult to police. Delhi also introduced a ban last year,” Tom Young of Business Green reports.

Via Planetsave

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