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Last Updated: Thursday, 7 August, 2003, 15:51 GMT 16:51 UK
Indian state outlaws plastic bags
By Baldev Chauhan
BBC reporter in Shimla

Picnickers in the northern Indian state of Himachal Pradesh could soon have a shock if they carry their lunch in a polythene bag.

Plastic bags
The new law is the most stringent in India
Under a new law, anyone found even using a polythene bag could face up to seven years behind bars or a fine of up to 100,000 rupees ($2,000).

Politicians in the picturesque Himalayan state, a popular tourist destination, say polythene pollution is a major problem.

"We have directed all our officials to enforce the new law strictly," State Environment Minister JP Negi told the BBC.

"Polythene pollution is not just an ugly sight in the hills, it has seriously damaged the environment by choking the soil."

Total ban

And it's not just how the bags are disposed of that's bothering the state authorities.

The new law bans the production, storage, use, sale and distribution of polythene bags.

The law is based on legislation passed by the national parliament, but Himachal Pradesh is the first state to have implemented it.

How successfully the law is actually enforced remains to be seen.

In May, the South African Government banned the use of thin plastic bags, threatening a 10-year jail sentence for offenders.

And in Ireland a tax on plastic shopping bags has significantly reduced their use.


SEE ALSO:
Tapioca bags to help environment
14 Jul 03  |  London
South Africa bans plastic bags
09 May 03  |  Africa
'High price' of carrier bag use
23 Mar 03  |  England
Irish bag tax hailed success
20 Aug 02  |  Europe
Planet Earth's new nemesis?
08 May 02  |  UK News
Bangladesh bans polythene
01 Jan 02  |  South Asia


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