The Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment has appealed to all government and non-government agencies, stakeholders, entrepreneurs as well as general public to cooperate help it translate its decision to declare the Kathmandu Valley a plastic-free zone into action.
According to the MoSTE, it does not have other options than to abide by the August 25, 2014 directive of the Environment Protection Committee of the Legislature-Parliament and declare the Valley a plastic-free zone on April 14, 2015, coinciding with the Nepali New Year Day.
Following the same, the government also had made an amendment to the Plastic Bags Regulation and Control Directives, 2011, to enforce a ban on the production, import, storage, sell, distribution and use of plastic bags below 30 microns thick as per the October 13, 2014 Cabinet decision.
Officials said, the Ministry of Commerce and Supplies will make necessary arrangements to carry out the monitoring of plastic industries and markets by deploying teams from the Department of Commerce and Supply Management to ensure that they have complied with the decision of the Environment Protection Committee.
Similarly, all municipal bodies of the Valley, including Kathmandu Metropolitan City, have been tasked with the responsibility of preparing publicity materials regarding the ban and circulate them through electronic as well as print media.
“Local bodies will display banners on all transit points of the Valley to aware people about the ban,” informed the MoSTE. The awareness programmes will also be organised at school level through the concerned educational institutions at the special initiatives of the Ministry of Education. All shopping malls in the Valley were requested to discourage their customers from using plastic bags from January 29 as part of the awareness campaign.
The concerned government agencies will allocate budget on their own for the implementation of the ban. “If they are in need of more budget, the Ministry of Finance will provide the necessary amount,” the MoSTE said.
Similarly, the MoSTE has written to the Ministry of Home Affairs to ban the use of plastic pouches during Holi festival, which falls on March 5, as part of preparation to ban plastics in the Valley. The MoSTE has also decided to honour persons, groups or organisations playing a positive role in making the Valley a plastic-free zone with awards.
The officials said they were doing the groundwork to encourage polythene factories to gradually switch towards production of biodegradable bags by providing subsidy to eligible factory on the import of equipment to phase-out polythene manufacturing machines after Nepal Plastic Manufacturers Association protested the government decision. There are more than 400 plastic factories in Nepal.