In continuation with the existing plastic ban in Karnataka, the state government passed an order on Thursday stating that all state government departments, government-run boards, corporations, educational institutes cannot use plastic in any form in any functions, seminars or conventions.
The state government has said that except for the plastic used in the 20 litre water cans, no other form of plastic must be used, not even plastic water bottles. The order further stated that plastic cups must be replaced with glass or metal ones. The government has directed all organisations and departments to install RO water purifiers in their respective offices and use them instead of ordering water bottles in plastic containers.
This move has been welcomed by environmentalists. “This is a a very good and welcome move. Even during meetings at the KSPCB (pollution control board) we see plastic water bottles being used. This used to happen even though they are the guardians of the regulations. If all the ministers and officials start doing this for real, it will be a huge impact,” Seema Sharma, a solid waste management activist said.
“Every day, the government has multiple functions, conferences, and a lot of plastic waste is generated. If the order is implemented, this will be really good push from the top,” she added.
The state government had imposed a blanket ban on plastic in March 2016 but that has not stopped the use of plastic in Bengaluru and other parts of the state. In particular, flex banners were deemed illegal as per the same notification, but until July 2018, flexes were being put up across Bengaluru mostly by politicians.
In addition to the blanket ban on plastic, the Karnataka Open Places (Prevention of Disfigurement Act), 1981 and The Karnataka Municipalities Act 1964 also hold flexes illegal but the enforcement of the ban was lacking until a drive by the government to take down all flex banners at the end of July.
It was not only flexes that felt the brunt of the drive by authorities. On July 26, 1.5 lakh tonnes of plastics were seized from shops on Avenue Road, KR Market and Neelasandra. The BBMP has also imposed fines of Rs 10,000 on small vendors and up to Rs 1 lakh fine on large businesses if they are found using plastic in spite of the ban.