With the government banning the manufacturing of plastic bags below the thickness of 40 micron in West Bengal, people associated with the trade say the move will render thousands jobless.
"The entire plastic industry in West Bengal, which employs 20,000 people in about 400 units virtually, is at stake," said K.M. Tibrewala, president of the Indian Plastic Federation (IPF).
"The government has reinforced the ban and also increased the limit to 40 micron from 20 micron. There's a misconception that ... plastic carry bags can cause environmental problem," Tibrewala told reporters here Friday evening.
The plastic carry bag sector is considered as a sunrise industry and has been exhibiting a consistent growth rate over the past year. It has seen a turnover of Rs.16 billion and has a market size 1,600 metric tonnes per month in West Bengal, according to the IPF.
Tibrewala said the government also earns Rs.3 million as revenue from the plastic manufacturing industry in West Bengal.
"We request the authorities to look into the matter in right perspective so that people employed in the plastic manufacturing units do not suffer," he said.
But officials of the West Bengal Environment Department said the government had imposed the ban, taking into account all the pros and cons.
"We have just levied the restriction not to manufacture plastic carry bags below 40 micron where as in Maharashtra this limit is 50 micron. In Himachal Pradesh and Sikkim the plastic carry bags are completely banned," senior law officer of West Bengal Environment Department Biswajit Mukherjee told IANS.
Mukherjee, who is also a member secretary of state-level plastic management committee, said the government had constituted a separate committee to monitor the situation in the state.
"We have not banned plastic carry bags but just imposed certain restrictions. We held several meetings with the association members and I am sure the benefit of this decision will surely be visible very soon," he said.
Earlier there was a restriction on using plastic carry bags below the thickness of 20 micron. But from June 5 this year, the state government announced that all plastic carry bags below 40 micron are banned in West Bengal.
"We are holding meetings with several municipalities to start solid waste management plants in their respective areas. Already 26 units are functioning in West Bengal, including four in north Bengal," Mukherjee said.