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SC seeks answers to plastic disposal

                                                                                     Deccan Herald, New Delhi, 4th April, 2013

The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and its state units to explain whether they were able to manage plastic waste generated daily in accordance with statutory requirements.

Alarmed by the “frightening” data on the quantum of plastic waste strewn around in cities, a bench of justices G S Singhvi and Kurian Joseph told the CPCB to collect details from the state pollution control boards and inform the court within four weeks.

Hearing a matter regarding ban on use of plastic in packaging of “gutka” and “paan masala,” the court said: “We are all sitting on a time bomb waiting to explode.”
It pointed out that tonnes of plastic was indiscriminately dumped along railways tracks as well.

According to the latest survey carried out in 60 cities, the average plastic waste generation was around 843.2 tonnes per day, which accounted for around 7 per cent of the total municipal solid waste.

“On the basis of the survey conducted in 60 major cities, the total quantum of plastic waste generated in the country is estimated to be 15,342.46 tonnes per day (5.6 million tonnes per year),” stated a note prepared by CPCB scientists A B Akolkar and S K Nigam. Taking into account his submission, the bench said: “Who is accountable for it? Is waste management for the court to decide?”

The court issued notices to municipal bodies of Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai, Agra, Jaipur and Faridabad, seeking their response.

During the hearing, Jain said according to Rule 4 of the Plastic Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 2011, “prescribed authority for implementation of provisions of the rules relating to registration, manufacture and recycling was the state pollution control board, while the municipal authorities were entrusted with the task of enforcement of provisions relating to the use, collection, segregation, transportation and disposal of plastic waste.”

After it was pointed out that municipal authorities were supposed to manage the waste, the court said: “Should we take it as a failure of governance at the grass-root level?”

Kolkata generated 3,670 tonnes of municipal solid waste daily, of which 11.60 per cent was plastic waste, whereas 8.48 per cent of the 3,700 tonnes of solid waste in Bangalore was plastic.  Among the 60 cities surveyed, Delhi has earned the distinction of producing the largest quantity of municipal solid waste, 6,800 tonnes per day, of which 10.14 per cent was plastic waste