Govt to act tough on plastic ban violators

Kathmandu, February 26

The government has decided to act more aggressively to ban the use of plastic bags.

Vijay Kumar Mallick, secretary at the Ministry of Population and Environment, informed that the central monitoring committee led by director general at the Department of Environment would monitor the production, storage and use of plastic bags in the Kathmandu Valley.

The monitoring committee comprises representatives from the Ministry of Industry, Ministry of Home Affairs, local bodies, police and plastic manufacturers.

The Department of Environment, that had implemented the ban, conceded it had intentionally ignored the pervasive sale, distribution and use of polythene bags after the earthquake and blockade as the government was focused on search, rescue and relief operations in the areas affected by the earthquake and on easing supply of essentials.

“As normalcy has returned, we have decided to resume the crackdown on sale, distribution and use of plastic bags with immediate effect. We want to make it clear that the government has not lifted the ban on plastic bags beyond the prescribed standard,” said Jagadish Bhakta Shrestha, director general at the DoE.

Narayan Raj Timilsina, joint secretary at the MoPE, said environmentalists would intensify awareness-raising campaigns through various media, besides initiating legal action against persons, vendors, retailers and wholesalers guilty of importing, selling, distributing and using plastic bags that do not meet the government-prescribed standards.

The government had imposed the ban on plastic bags below 40 microns with effect from April 14, as part of efforts to declare the Valley a plastic-free zone, citing environment pollution.

However, plastic bags above 40 microns are recyclable and will be allowed for production, import, sale and use.

The DoE has monitored more than 800 retail/wholesale shops, departmental stores and plastic bag industries so far.

During the inspection and monitoring, it seized around 2,500 plastic bags that did not meet the standard and initiated action against eight wholesale shops, one departmental store and two plastic vendors.

According to Section 18 of the Environment Protection Act 1997, if a person or organisation commits any act contrary to this Act or rules framed under the Act, they may be punished with a fine of up to Rs 50,000.

Kathmandu Metropolitan City, Lalitpur Sub-metropolitan City and other municipalities in the Valley are also slated to carry out monitoring in the respective areas.