Two days after banning gutkha and other smokeless tobacco products, the Delhi government on Wednesday ordered a blanket ban on use, storage, sale and manufacture of plastic bags in the city.
Two major initiatives in a span of a couple of days should be good news for Delhiites. However, people are skeptical about the effective implementation of the twin orders. And, there is valid reason for this misgiving.
Delhiites would recall plastic was banned by the Delhi government three years ago in 2009 on the order of the Delhi high court. However, we all know how the executive order was flouted with impunity.
The earlier order failed to make any impact largely due to the poor implementation and loopholes in that law.
The 2009 order prohibited only the use, storage and sale of plastic bags in commercial areas and also permitted plastic bags made of virgin or bio-degradable plastic of 40 microns or more thickness. Since the manufacturing of the plastic bag was allowed within the city limits, it invariably found its way into the local market.
Another important reason for the failure was the inability of the designated authorities to prosecute the violators.
This time around the government says it has plugged all the loopholes in the law and promises to crackdown on the violators with fines and imprisonment.
“There will be no leniency in implementing the blanket ban and crackdown on violators will be more aggressive this time,” chief minister Sheila Dikshit has said. We hope the chief minister’s intent percolates down to her officials responsible for the implementation.
Coming to the order on the gutkha ban, its implementation on the ground seems more difficult than the one on plastic bags – the primary reason being Delhi’s porous border with Uttar Pradesh, where gutkha has not been banned yet.
Those who would want to buy the product will just need to drive down to Noida or Ghaziabad. Again, in Delhi the chances of gutkha products being sold clandestinely are very high. Sceptics say the black market will flourish under the nose of the government officials.
Be that as it may, the two back-to-back bold initiatives by the Delhi government are certainly praiseworthy.