Concerned over the increasing use of banned polythene bags in the country after the earthquakes, the government is all set to resume strict monitoring of the ban.
According to Suraj Pokharel, the director general for the Department of Environment (DoE), the government will resume strict monitoring of market within the next three days and take stringent action against both the sellers and users of substandard plastic bags.
As per the new law, only plastic bags of thickness of at least 40 microns is allowed inside the Kathmandu Valley and for outside the valley, the thickness has been fixed at at least 30 microns.
Pokharel admitted that the government has been lax in monitoring the use of plastic bags especially after the earthquakes.
“The earthquakes came as a big shock and caused massive devastation, so it was impossible and impractical to monitor the ban. Now as the situation is gradually returning to normal, we have decided to make sure that the ban is implemented strictly. In three days, we will resume the monitoring and awareness campaign,” said Pokharel.
After months of preparations, (MoSTE) had imposed a complete ban on the sale and use of substandard plastic bags across the country from April 15. However, the ban could not be effective as the country was hit by a magnitude 7.8 earthquake just after 10 days, on April 25.
In the course of discouraging the use and sale of plastic bags especially in the capital, teams including representatives of MoSTE, DoE and police were deployed to inspect various parts of the Kathmandu Valley. Also, check points were erected at several places to conduct surprise checks on passersby and vehicles.
Before the earthquake, the monitoring teams had inspected nearly 700 retail and wholesale shops including 28 departmental stores in the valley. Within ten days, over 1400 kg of plastic bags were confiscated. Eight wholesale shops, one department store and a few vendors were warned against selling or using plastic bags.
“People should understand that ban on plastic bag is now a law and everyone has to obey it. Life is possible without the use of plastic bags and it’s public and environmental health we are talking about here,” said Pokharel.
According to section 18 of the Environment Protection Act, 1997, the government can take action against any person or organization found guilty of causing harm to the environment can be fined up to Rs 50,000.
“We first warn the law violators and only take action if they violate the law repeatedly,” said Pokharel.