Delhi sets penalties for plastic bags

In an effort to control Delhi’s rising tide of rubbish, city officials have set harsh penalties for the “use, storage and sale” of polythene bags, the Guardian reported. The rule means that customers, shopkeepers and others face a 100,000-rupee (US$2,000) fine and possible jail time for using non-biodegradable plastic bags.


Environmentalists say that more than 10 million plastic bags are used daily in the city of 16 million people, contributing to a huge litter problem in recent years. Polythene, from which the bags are made, takes hundreds of years to decompose. It also increases the demand for oil, which is used to make plastics.


According to city officials, the measures were needed after a law prohibiting all but the thinnest plastic bags was ignored. The ban is expected to be enforced lightly at the beginning, giving people the chance to switch to cotton, jute and other compostable bags. It will be up to the courts to decide on individual penalties.


Green organisations – which had pointed out that used plastic bags were clogging drains, creating breeding grounds for disease-bearing mosquitoes – welcomed the ban. “It may be the incentive required to change people’s behaviour,” said Sanjiv Goyal of Greenpeace.


See full story