While balls dropped, glasses clinked, and fireworks lit up the sky on January 1, India rang in the new year with a death knell for single-use plastic. To ease growing pollution in the capital of Delhi, the National Green Tribunal has not only banned plastic disposables in the territory, but it’s also directing Delhi authorities to take “immediate steps” to reduce waste in the three main dumping sites of Okhla, Gazipur, and Bhalswa, which residents allege use illegal mass-burning technology that creates air pollution.
“Each of these sites is a depiction of mess that can be created for environment and health of people of Delhi,” Swatanter Kumar, who chairs the tribunal, said in a statement.
The National Green Tribunal had earlier chastened the Delhi government for its “laxity” over the rising frequency of smog so thick and acrid it sears eyes and burns throats.
Plants that fail to comply with prescriptions laid out by the Air Prevention and Control of Pollution Act and Solid Waste Management Rules will face fines of 500,000 rupees—or $7,346 in American dollars—per incident, Kumar said.
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Similarly, Delhi’s vegetable vendors and slaughter houses that throw garbage in public places will have to cough up 10,000 rupees ($147) in reparative costs.
Delhi residents have hailed the changes as both necessary and long overdue.
“This is a brilliant move,” Priyanshu Sharma, who studies hotel management, told the Hindustani Times. “There are dumps around our house and sometimes they do not get cleaned for days. People also have to learn not to litter. A cleaner Delhi will always be a better Delhi.”
Others expressed a mix of optimism and caution.
“We have been trying to keep our city clean through various programs and it’s great that others will join in too in their own little ways because of this ban,” said Priyadarshini Valecha, who owns a waste-management company in Gurgaon. “Putting a fine is an effective way of reducing waste. But, only time will tell how successful this would be. I wish it the best!”
Photos by Julian Stallabrass and Tawheed Manzoor