The Maharashtra government's state-wide ban on the use of plastic items, including carry-bags and thermocol, came into effect from today.
For the first time offenders, the fine will be Rs 5,000. For second time offenders, the fine will be Rs 10,000. Those who violate it for the third time will face a fine of Rs 25,000, along with imprisonment of three months.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis told PTI that the plastic ban can succeed only if all the stake-holders support the move.
"We want to promote responsible use of plastic. Therefore, we have banned the kind of plastic that cannot be collected, regulated and recycled," he said.
The chief minister said that the ban puts the onus on the polluters, but at the same time some exceptions have been made so that businesses are not hampered till alternatives have a strong presence in the market.
"The ban will succeed only with the participation of all the stake-holders and that the government has made a committee to ensure trouble-shooting and smooth adaptation.
"We do not want to promote police raj and we are also trying to address the concerns of traders and small vendors," Fadnavis said.
On March 23, the state government had imposed a ban on manufacturing, use, sale, distribution and storage of plastic materials such as one-time-use bags, spoons, plates, PET and PETE bottles and thermocol items.
The government had given three months time for the disposal of the existing stocks.
All kinds of plastic bags, irrespective of their thickness, tea cups, glasses, thermocol glasses, thermocol used for decoration, plastic used in hotels to parcel food like boxes, spoons have been banned from today, state Environment Minister Ramdas Kadam said.
"The first time offenders will have to pay a fine of Rs 5,000; Rs 10,000 if caught for the second time and Rs 25,000 along with a jail term of three months for third time offence," he said.
Claiming that 80 per cent of the plastic is manufactured in Gujarat, the minister said the government has made strict provision of three-month jail if plastic is found being brought into Maharashtra from any other state.
Kadam said plastic and thermocol used by manufacturing companies, materials used in hospitals like saline bottles, and boxes used to store medicines, plastic pens, milk pouches that are above 50 microns in thickness have been exempted from the ban.
"Plastic and thermocol used for packaging television sets, fridges, computers as well as raincoats, plastic used for storing food grains and that used in nurseries for plants and also plastic in which biscuits, chips, are packaged, etc has been exempted from the ban," he said.
Hailing the ban, Yuva Sena chief Aaditya Thackeray said although people will have to face some difficulty initially, they will get used to it over the time.
"This decision will change the destiny of our future generations. I am sure this decision taken by the government will serve as an example for the entire world," he said.
Thackeray said work towards the ban on plastic was initiated in August last year, when it was found that plastic had led to major water-logging in Mumbai following continuous downpour.
"A lot of plastic and thermocol was found stuck in gutters which rendered our pumping stations useless and caused flooding in the city. We have since been working on banning use of plastic," he said.