Social Sanchar with Dr. P. Anbalagan, IAS and Smt. Nidhi Choudhari, IAS on 21st June 2018

June 21, 2018 @ 4:00 pm – 5:30 pm

On 21st June’18, V Citizens Action Network organized a Special Social Sanchar at the Royal Bombay Yacht Club, with the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) and Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) in order to help everyone truly understand the “Plastic Ban” as notified by Maharashtra Government and which has come into force. The Guest Speakers were Dr. P. Anbalagan IAS, Member Secretary, Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) and Mrs. Nidhi Choudhari IAS, Deputy Municipal Commissioner (Special), MCGM.

As the purpose of the Social Sanchar was to enable Citizens to be well informed in respect of environmental issues and most importantly, to learn about the new restrictions on plastic use and banned items, having both the Regulator and the Implementer coming together presented an invaluable opportunity to the Citizens.

Mrs. Indrani Malkani, Chairman of VCAN gave a brief introduction, explained the format of the Social Sanchar and stressed that the focus of this Social Sanchar was to bring clarity about the Banned Plastic items. She welcomed the in-house audience comprising of a varied demography including school and college going children, homemakers, manufacturers, persons from the hospitality industry and many concerned Citizens. She also welcomed the online audience and reiterated the need to decongest Mumbai and yet ensure that everyone gets an opportunity to have a direct dialogue with the government, which is the purpose of the Social Sanchars.

Mrs. Malkani acknowledged and thanked the Founding Partner of VCAN’s Web Portal – Eureka Forbes, Support Partner – Mahindra Rise, Venue Partner – Royal Bombay Yacht Club, Technology Partner – Teknowlegion, Video Technology Partner – April Broadcast Pvt. Ltd., VCAN’s Collaborating College Partner – Jai Hind College and in particular the school children from Pawar Public School and Bhada School as well as friends from the media.

After a brief introduction of the speakers by Mr. V. Ranganathan, Trustee of VCAN and a former Chief Secretary of Maharashtra and Municipal Commissioner of Mumbai, he set the tone of the discussion by speaking of the two notifications issued by the Maharashtra Government – one issuing orders on the ban and second extending the period by three months – being connected to an order on disposal of plastic material issued by Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change in March 2016.

The notification directed every Municipal Corporation to make arrangements for segregation and disposal of wastes, recycling plastic wastes and finding alternatives to it, within a period of one year. Further, Mr. Ranganathan asked for clarification about the plastic wrapped articles being received from other states. He spoke of using viable alternatives to plastic and not the ones which cause more harm to the environment, like paper. He drew attention that it was an opportune time to implement the plastic ban as it was on the same lines as that of the UN Theme on World Environment Day for this year-‘Beat Plastic Pollution’. Dr. Anbalagan was then invited to make his opening remarks.

Dr. Anbalagan briefed the audience about the Maharashtra Government’s Biodegradable Garbage Control Act and answered the ‘why’ of plastic ban. He clarified that as of now three main items are banned:

1. All types of Plastic carry bags irrespective of shape, size, with or without handle, with or without printing, any thickness (20 micron, 50 micron, 100 micron), any material (PP, LD, HMHD), and non-woven bags. Even carry bags brought from Duty Free shops are banned, and to be deposited before entering the city, however MPCB will issue a clarification on this issue.

Zip lock bags, Cling film, Cellophane/BOPP (transparent) plastic used for outer covering of flowers/bouquets are banned.

The Regular Garbage bags (blue, black, green) are all banned. Only “compostable” garbage bags certified by CPCB are allowed.

2. Single-use disposable plastic items such as cups, plates, glasses, spoons, and hotel food containers are banned.

3. Thermocole – in any form for decoration or non-industrial use is banned.

He also informed the Citizens clearly about the items that are exempted under the ban, which includes;

1. PET bottles, milk pouches and all packaging done at manufacturing stage as well as PET bottles – ALL sizes (200ml, 500ml, 1L, etc.) – for water, cold drinks, etc.

2. All kinds of plastic packaging if packaged at the point of manufacture – so printed, laminated packs/containers of wafers, biscuits, namkeen, ketchup, ghee, oil, chocolates, papad, etc. are allowed (since original manufacturer will pack them and will be required to label them as per guidelines).

3. Tupperware and other such plastic containers (air-tight, lock and lock, etc.) that are used for storage and/or lunch etc.

4. Gloves and hair covering woven caps, used by Restaurants, Caterers, and Cooks.

5. Any plastics if exported directly.

Dr. Anbalagan highlighted the Extender Producer Responsibility and the buyback scheme. He encouraged Citizens to uphold their civic duty and contribute wisely to the project by segregating wastes at source.

Mrs. Nidhi Choudhari when invited to share from the Implementer’s perspective, explained the mechanism set up by MCGM to ensure successful implementation of the ban. She cited the Plastic Collection Centers and about the MCGM Toll free Number 1800222357 for clarifications. MCGM has been carrying out various awareness programs.

The actual implementation of the ban was to be taken care of by 249 Inspectors divided from amongst three groups of officers from the Shopping, Market, and License Departments. She spoke of the penalties and the fines for violations ranging from Rs 5000 to Rs.25000.

Mrs. Choudhari cordially invited all to visit the MCGM exhibition showcasing the various alternatives to plastic to be held at NSCI, Worli from June 22nd to 24th June.

Before starting the public interaction, for even better clarity, various plastic products were shown to the speakers and Dr. Anbalagan clarified which products displayed were under the banned list and which products were not banned.

Thereafter questions were invited from the in-house and online audiences.

Due to the number of questions asked, we have not listed them individually, however we encourage you to view the video of the event via the link provided at the end of the report.

The event concluded by a promise to act collectively and a vote of thanks was given by Mrs. Malkani. The speakers were presented a memento on behalf of VCAN, after which the audience was invited for tea and refreshments provided by the Royal Bombay Yacht Club.

To view the photos of the event click here.

To view the video of the event click here.

MCGM Ward-wise Waste Segregation Centers for “Collection of Banned Plastic” click here.

Alternatives to Plastics – Vendor List click here.

Mah. Govt. MPCB Notification of 23rd March 2018 click here.

Mah. Govt. MPCB Notification of 18th April 2018 click here.

Mah. Govt. MPCB Clarification of 30th June 2018 click here.

MPCB Publication dated 2nd July 2018 clarifying status of Plastic Items  click here