Ban and regulate plastic bags, SC tells govt

Published On: July 9, 2023 11:00 AM NPT By: Bhasa Sharma

KATHMANDU, July 9: The Supreme Court (SC) has issued an order in the name of the government to ban and regulate the use of plastic bags, saying that they are affecting the environment and human health.

The Ministry of Forests and Environment (MoFE) has issued a directive to implement the notice published in the Nepal Gazette 2071 BS, revoking the decision made five years ago because it is against the law.

The full text of the judgment passed by the joint bench of Justices Sapna Pradhan Malla and Sushmalata Mathema on May 2, 2022 came from the Supreme Court on Friday.

The SC has issued an injunction order to implement the information to organize and regulate the import, storage, sale and use of plastic bags of specified size and less than micron thickness within the Kathmandu Valley.

Various decisions have been made by the relevant ministries many times saying that the use of plastic will affect the environment and public health. However, those decisions do not seem to have been implemented.

The then Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment published a decision on plastic in the Nepal Gazette on April 1, 2015. A public notice was issued on the standard of 'banning the import, storage, sale, distribution and use of plastic bags of 20/35 size and less than 40 micro thickness with the aim of making the city clean, tidy and pollution-free'. Similarly, on June 6, 2018 the Ministry of Forests and Environment publicly released the book titled 'Clean Environment Mega Campaign 2075 BS Action Plan' at the ministerial level, as per the same information. 

In the 14-page book, it was written, "Controlling and regulating plastic bags of thickness less than 30 microns and promoting alternative bags in case of other bags." Bharat Kumar Basnet filed a writ application in the SC saying that the written matter violated the notice published in the gazette in April 2015 and violated the law.

The petitioner had demanded that since the standards for banning the import and storage of plastic bags have been implemented, it should not be put back. On September 2, 2018 the court issued an interim order to 'control and regulate plastic bags of thickness less than 30 microns and promote other alternative bags'.

Plastics adversely affect the environment and public health. In the impact on the environment, there are problems like reduction of soil fertility, blockage of water sources, obstruction in drainage. Burning and destroying plastic produces a toxic, noxious gas, which affects the atmosphere. Poison gas is very harmful to public health. The SC has explained that there will be problems related to biodiversity such as animals eating plastic mixed in the soil and hindering the cultivation of vegetables. Unplanned use of plastic has affected people's livelihood, food production, capacity and social condition.

The SC stated, "In a city with a dense population and consumers like Kathmandu, if such a regulation on plastic is changed and withdrawn, it will have a negative impact on health, environment, biological diversity and it seems that it will be contrary to the environmental law.”

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