As published previously, the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, announced the ban of single-use plastic, effective on the 2nd of October 2019. However, late yesterday, the government’s Swachh Bharat twitter handle posted the following:

With the news that the government has no plan to ban single-use plastic items immediately has been received well by manufactures and the plastic production industry. Ramesh Chauhan, chairman of Bisleri International, said “yes, this is a relief for beverage companies in India”, as there was lack of clarity around what as single-use plastic in India. For now, the government has asked states to enforce existing rules against storing, manufacturing and using some single-use plastic products such as polythene bags and styrofoam. 

Nepali woman selling water and vegetables on the street market.

India which used about 14 million tonnes of plastic annually, lacks an organised system for management of plastic waste, leading to widespread littering. However, this decision to shelf the decision to ban nationwide has come about in the light of several economic sectors not having access to alternatives for single-use plastic. The Confederation of Indian Industry, a lobby group said, small-sized plastic bottles used for pharmaceutical or health products should be exempted as there is no alternative available. Sachets made from so-called multi-layered packaging should also not be banned, as that could disrupt supplies of products like biscuits, salt and milk.

The plastic industry brings in a large fortune that is important for the Indian economy; 

Even though currently cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Karwar, Tirumala, Vasca, Rajasthan, Kerela, Punjab and Madhya Pradesh have enforced a ban single-use plastic, the impact widespread plastic ban will have on the Indian economy is seen as severe. With the Indian plastic industry bringing in about Rs. 3.5 Billion in this financial year, it has become the fasted growing industry accommodating million jobs and great fortune. India has about 30,000 plastic processing units and 150 plastic processing machinery manufacturers. 

Pollution of Bagmati River, Kathmandu. Holy cow grazing among plastic, cardboard and other refuse, Bagmati River bank, Kathmandu, Nepal

Scientist estimate that every square mile of ocean contains about 46,000 pieces of floating plastic, predicting that by 2050 there will be more plastic than fish if plastic pollution continues to rise. India contributes about 60% every year to this massive plastic waste dump into the world’s oceans.

“The toxins, poisons and persistent pollutants present in some of these plastic products leach and enter human bodies where they cause several diseases, including cancer,” said Chitra Mukherjee, head of advocacy and policy at Delhi-based Chintan Environmental Research and Action Group. Now the only question that remains is that of waiting to see if the government will shelve the ban permanently or create an action plan in the remaining to two months to at least encourage nationwide usage of single-use plastic by 2022.

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