The Madras High Court in the case G.Subramania Koushik v. The Principal Secretary and others opined that TASMAC’s buy-back scheme implemented in the Nilgiris region should be implemented across the state of Tamil Nadu. The observation was made by the bench comprising of Justice N Sathish Kumar and Justice D Bharatha Chakravarthy, while considering a batch of plea for protection of the Western Ghats area.
TASMAC was previously directed by the court to implement a buy back scheme according to which for every sale of bottles in the Nilgiris District, an extra amount of Rs. 10/- shall be collected from the consumer over and above the Maximum Retail Price and this extra amount of Rs. 10/- so collected shall be refunded to the consumer on the production of an empty liquor bottle.
The Managing Director of TASMAC submitted, when the matter was being heard that a status report according to which 63% of the bottles sold in the region came back.
the bench observed on seeing the report that 63% bottles have come back, the court is of the opinion that the buy-back scheme should be implemented in the entire state so that damage caused to the environment can be controlled by the buy-back scheme.
It was submitted by the TASMAC MD that there were practical difficulties in implementing this scheme across the state and the court enquired about these difficulties and directed him to come up with a comprehensive scheme and to get instructions for implementing the scheme across the state by working out with all the modalities.
In his status report, the TASMAC MD submitted that in the Nilgiris region almost 29 lakh bottles have been sold since the implementation of the buy-back scheme and Out of which almost 18 lakh bottles came back to the TASMAC. These bottles are lying in the shops and tenders have been called to receive these bottles.
It was also submitted before the bench that the scheme has been introduced in other areas like Coimbatore, Dindigul and other areas where shops are located near National Parks and Wildlife Parks. In these areas, almost 59% of the bottles have come back
The TASMAC was directed by the court to give advertisements in newspapers as well as other print and electronic media stressing on the importance of the buy-back scheme and how it would prevent damage to the environment. Further, the court also directed that such ads should appear in a regular basis in all medias. However, the court also directed the Excise Commissioner to issue circulars to license holders of private bars and hotels (which were outside the TASMAC’s authority) to return the bottles to TASMAC.