A covert campaign spreading misinformation has brought banned plastic bags back to the shops in several parts of the city. Local retailers appeared to be under the impression that the Delhi High Court has put a stay on the ban till March 19, which is the date of the hearing of an appeal against the ban by the plastic industry.
Shopkeepers said suppliers of plastic bags told them that since manufacturers have challenged the ban, the court has put a stay on the order, which is not true.
“There is no stay on the ban at all. The court has merely asked for a reply from the government. But plastic suppliers are spreading wrong information and setting up innocent shopkeepers for punishment. I am writing to the Delhi Pollution Control Committee,” said Vinod Jain, petitioner in the court case that brought about the ban.
So organised is the misinformation campaign that from local markets in RK Puram in the South to Laxmi Nagar in the East and Janak Puri in the West, Hindustan Times on Sunday found open violation of the ban almost everywhere with shopkeepers citing the imaginary stay on the order. At several shops in Connaught place, shopkeepers are handing out plastic bags without names of shops on them.
The plastic industry, which challenged the ban, claimed innocence saying that users and shopkeepers were using plastic on their own.
“People could not keep off plastic bags because of the sheer usefulness. Sensing the demand, people are supplying them to the shops. The government cannot stop it,” said Ravi Aggarwal, head of All India Plastic Industries Association.
What has helped detractors of the ban is the lack of adequate enforcement drives and publicity about the ban.