Bhubaneswar: The Forest and Environment department has planned a slew of measures to make government offices, programmes and state-run schools free from polythene and plastic.
Soon, the Forest and Environment department would write to all departments asking them not to use polythene bags less than 50 micron in thickness, plastic bottles and thermocol plates in government offices, meetings and programmes, sources said.
“All government employees would be administered an oath against the use of plastic and polythene,” said Forest and Environment department director K. Murugusen.
According to Murugusen, the department would felicitate schools for their achievement of polythene-free status. The officials of Centre for Environment Studies would visit schools and collect information on the latter’s progress in achieving plastic-free goals, he said.
“We have written to Mass Education and Higher Education departments to make school and college students aware of the harmful impact of plastic and polythene,” Murugusen said.
The state government has banned polythene and plastic in Bhubaneswar, Cuttack, Berhampur, Sambalpur, Rourkela and Puri from October 2. The Forest and Environment department has asked producers and suppliers of polythene to exhaust their stocks by October 29.
As per the state government guidelines, shopkeepers cannot sell and use polythene bags less than 50 micron in thickness. However, people are permitted to use polythene for packaging ice cream and milk products.
The government also allowed people to use polythene in horticulture sector and for disposal of garbage. However, it has put restrictions on the use of plastic and polythene in places of worship, hotels, restaurants, cafes, wedding ceremonies, offices and outdoor functions. As per the guidelines, no one can use plastic in public places.
The state government has asked producers to take back all plastic bottles from market. Any violation in this regard would invite imprisonment up to one year and Rs 5 lakh penalty. People would be penalised Rs 5,000 for each day if they violate the plastic ban order for the second time.
According to the guidelines, people would face seven years of imprisonment and penalty up to Rs 10 lakh if they violate the ban for the third time. “Our special squads would start raids from October 29 to ensure polythene ban. We have asked all the municipal commissioners and executive officers to take all possible steps to check the use of polythene. They can punish the violators under Environment (Protection) Act 1996,” Murugusen said.
The state government has asked district collectors to involve additional district magistrates, superintendents of police, divisional forest officers, tehsildars and officials of State Pollution Control Board (SPCB) for implementation of the ban order.