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Bisleri International Pvt Ltd challenges ban on two-liter water bottles in Sikkim High Court

Bisleri International Pvt Ltd has challenged the ban on water bottles below two litres by the Sikkim government in the Sikkim High Court. Bisleri International Pvt Ltd said in its petition that the ban imposed by the Sikkim government had adversely affected their business and that the government had done injustice by banning only water bottles.

“It is the case of the petitioner that only plastic water bottles of capacity 2 litres and below were banned affecting them adversely whereas other manufacturers of other products using plastic bottles have not been banned” reads the petition 

The petition also alleges that the government’s decision to ban only drinking water bottles without imposing any restrictions on other beverage bottles was a loss to the company.

The Sikkim High Court is hearing the petition today and has issued a notice to the state government. A single bench of Justice Bhaskar Raj Pradhan directed the state government to file its reply within six weeks and the petitioner within three weeks. The succeeding hearing on the case is listed for 6 May.

Looking back at recent policies by the state government, drinking water bottles have been banned since the first day of January this year. The use of single-use plastic bottles in Sikkim has been banned seeing the indiscriminate dumping of water bottles by consumers. This decision came with a firm hand from the government, saying it has adversely affected the environment. While water bottles below two liters are banned, the same quantity of other fluids housed in similar plastic bottles have been left alone, which has sparked a stir among citizens. Ironically, there has been a split in the stir where on one hand people have lauded the decision and welcomed the policy with open arms, and on the other people have pointed out numerous design flaws in the policy itself.

The High Court of Sikkim has ordered the state government to file counter affidavit within 6 weeks time period 

“ Issue notice to the State-respondent. The learned Additional Advocate General accepts notice on behalf of the State-respondent. He submits that he wants to file a response to the petition as well as the interim application within a period of six weeks” High Court of Sikkim 

Environmentalists, local and stakeholders on the law of ban of water bottles by the government tagged it as poorly framed policy 

one Envriomentalist said, “A policy framed poorly and with very less discussion and research is destined to fail.  It will always have loopholes which few people can use as per their benefit.  This has been evidently seen in the case of banning plastic water bottles up to 2 litres.  Now 2.1 litres plastic water bottle is available which seems to be of worse quality than the earlier one”

“The state government has banned the sale or manufacture or import of water bottles of 2 litres and below capacity, and which is being lauded. Now imagine yourself sweating profusely, thirsty and your throat so parched that you can barely manage to speak due to  the punishing heat during summer in places like Singtam, Rangpo, Jorethang etc. and you can’t get a bottle of water to drink!” added the statement 

“This decision is going to be implemented from January next year, but nothing has been said about addressing the problem that people will be facing post the implementation of this notification. If anyone with access to policymakers is listening, I’d like to make  a suggestion that the government should install “Coin-operated Water ATMs” in every town of the state, and multiple water ATMs for bigger towns – coinciding with the implementation of the notification.

It is the responsibility of the government to provide safe drinking water to people. Commanding people to make lifestyle change is easier said than done. The government should think of an alternative prior to coming up with such ban and not only after people start facing problems. Otherwise, it’ll be like banning open defecation and open urination with no adequate public toilets.” said one local stakeholder 

“ One can observe that people have been left in a quandary where on one side one’s conscience tells them that it is an amazing decision of banning small plastic water bottles that only add up to the pile turned mountain of trash and the carbon footprint that humans have left on Earth adding on to the evidently impending Climate Crises, and on another side there’s the human body crying out for hydration while on emergency travel with limited amount in one’s pocket. Such is an example of where the loopholes and hiatuses lie while talking about the policy itself.“

“ Touching up on one’s query of why there’s only ban on water, which is an indispensable necessity for humans to survive but not on other fluids that come in the same kind of plastics that indubitably ultimately add on to the same adverse effects that the government has justified while banning drinking water bottles, one can only wait for the trial of Bisleri International Pvt Limited vs State of Sikkim to unfold, and hope for clear answers on this query.” said one local 

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