Last Updated : 06 Oct 2008 03:16:53 AM IST
CHENNAI: The only serious attempt to regulate the proliferation of disposable plastics in the State was made in 2002, when the then AIADMK government introduced a Bill on the subject in the Assembly.Solidly backing the Bill on the floor of the House, the then Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa had said she was upset at finding plastic tumblers and other articles littered by tourists visiting the Nilgiris.
Introduced on May 7, the Tamil Nadu Plastic Articles (Prohibition of Sale, Storage, Transport and Use) Bill 2002 (L.A. Bill 22 of 2002) witnessed a stormy debate. A day later, it was referred to the Select Committee of the Assembly.And on January 31, 2003, the government withdrew the Bill.Jayalalithaa said her government saw merit in the demand for increasing public awareness about the adverse impact of plastics before going ahead with the ban.
She also pointed out that the government required time to work out the modalities of implementing the Bill’s provisions.Manufacturers of plastic too deserved extra time to shift to more acceptable substitutes, she said.So, instead of going in for a blanket ban, purging should be done in stages - first in Corporation areas, then in the municipalities and then all over the State, she said. That was 2003.Five years on, there has been no forward movement.
The Bill that was killed said: ``There is a rapid increase in the use of plastic articles, particularly of non-reusable carrybag, cup, tumbler, plate, spoon, fork, straw, string, cord, sheet, mat and such articles made of, or containing plastic, particularly in retail shops, hotels including residential hotels, restaurants, canteens, marriage halls, eating houses and other places where food is prepared, served or supplied for consumption.
Plastic is non-biodegradable. The aforesaid, non-reusable plastic articles are thrown away after onetime use. This causes a significant environment risk and health hazards.” Had the Bill turned into law, those caught selling, storing or transporting non-biodegradable plastics would have had to pay between Rs 5000 and Rs 25,000 as fine. For users, the fine was between Rs 100 and Rs 500.