Mumbai, Feb 23 (IANS) In wake of the blanket ban on manufacture and sale of all plastic bags and packaging materials imposed by the Maharashtra government, thousands of industry players took out a massive protest procession here on Friday.
They carried placards with messages like ‘Use Plastic Nicely – Dispose It Wisely’, and others urging people to stop littering which is bad and emphasizing that plastic is 100 percent recyclable.
The protest was organised by Maharashtra Plastic Manufacturing Association (MPMA), Plastic Manufacturers Social Welfare Association (PMSWA) other groups of dealers with participants trooping in from all over the state.
MPMA President Ravi Jashnani said that the protest was to raise their serious concerns and impress upon the state Government to withdraw the ban issued on January 2.
“For several months now, we have highlighted the drawbacks of such a blanket ban on plastic usage and production to the notice of government and also enhance its awareness amongst public. Unfortunately we got no support; hence this procession was the only option left to convey our concerns and demands,” he said.
“This is not a token protest. We want to work together with authorities in ensuring that plastic does not damage the environment. We welcome the Government’s move that has already banned usage of plastic bags below 50 micron, but it is sad that poor implementation of this ban has failed to curtail its usage,” said PMSWA Secretary Kaushik Sanghvi.
The industry officials pointed out that the plastic industry is growing at 15 percent per annum and such bans could be harmful to the economy, will result in dirty roads, higher usage of water, use of glass bottles which may lead to more accidents, besides unemployment, effects on tourism and an overall negative impact on GDP.
Presently, Jashnani said over 2,000 big and small units are engaged in re-processing of plastic material providing jobs to over 400,000 people.
“The need for plastic can never be undermined since it is used all sectors of the economy, though paper and fabric can be alternates, but for paper, more trees will be cut and will prove to be costlier in the long run,” he added.
However, re-processing of plastic results in electricity generation, fuel alternates, etc. and presently over 90 percent plastic bottles are being re-used and over 60 percent of all plastic is being re-processed.
The ban will hit the Clean City project as plastic bags and plastic bins which are used to remove road and household garbage would not be made available.
Essentials like milk, foods, medicines, and other products needing longer storage or shelf-life will be badly hit, affecting other sectors like agriculture, dairy, food processing, defence supplies and result in plastic produced in other states coming into Maharashtra, they said.