Mumbai: Over two weeks after the railway authorities requested the Maharashtra Environment Ministry to authorise them to act against the plastic ban violators and penalise them, they are still waiting for a response, officials said today.
A couple of days before the state-wide ban on plastic items came into force on June 23, the Central Railway (CR) as well as the Western Railway (WR) had made the request to the ministry. “We had requested the state Environment Ministry to include railways in the list of authorities nominated for the implementation of the banned plastic items so that we can take action against the violators. We had made the request a couple days before the ban came into effect,” a senior official of CR said.
“However, even after two weeks the state government is yet to respond to our request. Until and unless we are officially given power, we cannot collect fine from the violators,” he added. In their submission, the railway authorities had sought to know the list of banned plastic items and detailed guidelines about implementing the ban. A WR official said they are also waiting for the government’s green signal to implement the ban on its premises.
However, both the railways have taken up certain measures to discourage passengers from using plastic items on its premises and instructed the stall owners at the stations to avoid such products. “All the stall owners, including the cafeteria operators, have been warned against using plastic and they are cooperating with us,” the officials said. The CR and the WR said they have already installed plastic bottle crushing machines at some stations on a pilot basis.
They will also float tenders to install additional plastic bottle crushing machines. While the CR plans to set up 35 such machines at 21 stations, the WR eyes to install 25 machines at 18 stations. The state government had banned 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 from June 23.
The ban prescribed Rs 5,000 fine for the first-time offenders and Rs 10,000 for the second-time offenders. Those who violate the ban for the third time will face a fine of Rs 25,000, along with a three-month imprisonment. However, four days later, the government had relaxed the stringent ban by allowing small retailers to use plastic bags for packaging for the next three months. The relaxation is applicable for plastic bags above 50 microns.