The anti plastic drive of the city corporation is toothless at the moment as the civic body is not in a position to penalise violators who do not stick to the 40 micron base limit for plastic packaging materials. The civic body is periodically sending its officials to various units, mainly petty shops and commercial outlets and plastic materials not adhering to the 40 micron rule are seized in bulk.
But surprisingly, not even a single violator has been fined so far and the anti plastic drive ends with the officials walking away with the seized materials. "We are planning to introduce stringent measures to fine violators. A resolution is expected to be passed in either the next council meeting or the one after that. Even though none of the violators have been penalised yet, the seizure of plastic materials is a good deterrent for them and they are less likely to violate the anti plastic rule," said SM Velusamy, mayor, Coimbatore corporation.
However, the ministry of environment and forest had amended the plastic handling rules in 2011 and had imposed a strict ban on the use of plastic materials below 40 microns. Coimbatore corporation officials had also started a major anti plastic drive with the seizure of plastic materials from commercial centres.
The corporation had even warned residents and traders that strict measures will be taken including the imposition of a fine up to Rs one lakh and imprisonment if they violated the norms but no violator has been fined so far. "The anti plastic drive will be further intensified in the coming days," said TK Ponnusamy, Commissioner, Coimbatore Corporation. The civic body has so far collected 2200 kg of plastic items this year alone.
The corporation had fixed penalty rates for violators when plastic weighing below 20 microns was banned. The rate for wholesalers was Rs 2500, for retail traders Rs 750 and for individuals found using the materials the fine amount was Rs 100. These rates were fixed four years ago.
After the ministry of environment and forest had issued a notification in 2011 banning the use of plastic materials below 40 microns, the civic body was supposed to pass a council resolution and amend the penalty norms and upgrade the 20 micron norm to 40 as prescribed by the central government.