Govt enforces ban on gutkha sachets

Bhubaneswar: The state environment ministry has issued letters to all district collectors to strictly comply with the Supreme Court stricture issued on December last where the apex court had imposed a ban on use of plastic sachets in the packaging of tobacco and pan masala products.

The ministry has also asked the authorities to seize products sold with plastic sachets. In addition, the ministry also asked to conduct raids on retailers, traders, storage agents and register cases against them under CrPC 133 if found to have stacked these products.

“We have issued notices to all the district collectors and police commissionarate Cuttack and Bhubaneswar to take steps to prohibit the sale of gutkha sachets on the basis of Plastic Waste Management and Handling Act,” said Director of MoEF Bhagirathi Behera.

Though several states have acted upon the directive, Orissa imposed restrictions today. It may be mentioned here that apex court had refused to extend the deadline for plastic packaging after March 1.

As per Supreme court’s directive, the gutkha and pan masala packaging companies would have to use paper or aluminium packaging for these products.

As Orissa is a huge market for packaged tobacco and pan masala products, the ministry has asked the officials to strictly enforce the norms.

Meanwhile, the traders dealing with tobacco and pan masala products have resorted to black marketing after creating artificial scarcity in the market. The products which were being sold at Re 1 are being sold at minimum Rs 2.50 in the state.

“We sell the products as supplied by distributors. With the ban, if the products will be available in paper packaging then we don’t have any issues to sell them,” a betel shop owner said.