Govt’s New Year resolve: Polythene bag-free Valley

- POST REPORT, Kathmandu
Govt’s New Year resolve: Polythene bag-free Valley

Mar 23, 2015-

It is time for Kathmandu residents to prepare for a new but healthy lifestyle. On April 14, the Nepali New Year Day, the ban on plastic bags comes into effect in Kathmandu Valley.

Production, sale and daily use of any form of polythene bags will be illegal in three weeks, and those found to be using it will be penalised under the Local Self Governance Act (1999).

But going through the government’s track record on trying to outlaw plastic bags either in the supermarkets of the Capital, public places or inside the government’s secretariat Singha Durbar, effective implementation of the order is a daunting task for the authorities.

The Environment Ministry in 2011 came up with Plastic Bags Control and Regulation Directives, barring companies and individuals from production, import, storage, sale and use of plastic bags lighter than 20 microns. It had provisioned fines ranging from Rs500 to Rs50,000 for the production and use of such bags. However, it was never enforced.

“It will be different this time around. It is not only the ministry which leads the initiative, there is commitment from the political leadership to implement the ban effectively within the Valley,” said Mahendra Gurung, chief of the environment section under the Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment.

Less than a month before the ban comes into force, the Parliamentary Committee on Environment Protection on Monday once again pressed for strict implementation of the order.

“It has asked all the concerned ministries to work in a coordinated approach towards banning harmful plastic bags,” said Gurung. “Public health is the biggest concern and we cannot compromise on this.”

However, it seems the government is already facing problems for implementation. Nepal Plastics Manufacturer’s Association, an umbrella organisation of around 300 plastic manufacturers across the country, has warned of defying the ban as the government had failed to address concerns raised by the producers.

According to Sharad Sharma, chairperson of the association, the decision was taken without consulting with plastic manufacturers who say the ban would imperil investments worth billions of rupees and hit more than 2,000 jobs directly.

Sharma said that plastic accounts for only 3 percent of the total waste generated in the Valley and is manageable if the Kathmandu Metropolitan City comes up with appropriate waste segregation measures at the source and destination.

Gurung, however, said the ban is only for polythene bags and the manufactures of other plastic products would not be affected.

Published: 24-03-2015 08:46

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