In its bid to create a cleaner city, Kolkata has initiated a measure to prevent people from using plastic. Traders and vendors caught handing out goods in illegal plastic bags will be fined Rs 500. Even the customers, who accept such plastic bags, will have to pay a fine of Rs 50.
Plastic polythene bags below 50 microns were banned three years ago but have never been implemented. Municipal bodies across the country, including Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) and Bidhannagar Municipal Corporation are all set to enforce the law from Wednesday, October 2, when the country will observe the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.
According to the KMC market department authorities, a team of inspectors has visited all major municipal markets and warned the traders not to flout the norm, The Times of India reported. Traders that stock plastic and thermocol (polystyrene) wares, including glasses, plates, bowls and straws have been asked to remove all the goods by tonight or they will have to end up paying penalties.
“The civic inspectors have warned fish and vegetable sellers as well as owners of grocery and stationery shops against use of banned plastic bags. The KMC market department officials will be assisted by conservancy and environment wings in enforcing the ban,” a KMC official told TOI.
Awareness programme in the markets across city are being carried out by the shopkeepers and vendors, who are repeatedly urging customers to bring shopping bags from Wednesday, October 2. “We will not be able to give plastic bags, above 50 microns, for free as they will cost around Rs 3 each. Hence, we are asking everyone to bring a bag when they come to shop,” the report quoted Rajib Das, a vegetable vendor in Lansdowne market, as saying.
Emphasising on the need of people’s participation to make the plastic ban a success, state pollution control board (PCB) chairman Kalyan Rudra highlighted the actions of Bangur Mriganka Bhattacharya, who had banned polybag use in Bangur area of north Kolkata way back in 2004 when he was the local councillor. “People have now formed the habit of carrying their own bags to shop. Even vendors there will not hand out polybags,” Rudra said.
The state PCB also plans to start a campaign post Durga Puja that aims to alter parents’ behaviour by sensitising children. “We will hand over a cloth bag to each child in 10 schools in all districts of Bengal. The kids will be asked to get all the plastic and e-waste from their home in the bag,” PCB chairman Kalyan Rudra was quoted as saying by the daily.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has urged the people of the country to make their homes and workplace single-use plastic free by October 2.
Single-use plastics, also referred to as disposable plastics (use and throw items), are commonly used for plastic packaging and include items intended to be used only once, before they are thrown away or recycled, the ministry had said. Single-use plastics include carry bags, food packaging, bottles, straws, containers, cups and cutlery.
In guidelines issued to states and union territories earlier, India's environment secretary had said all government offices must completely ban all types of plastic carry bags, thermocol disposable cutlery and discourage the use of artificial banners, flags, flowers, water bottles, plastic folders, among others.