Plastic bags will have to vanish from shops in Gurgaon now.
The Haryana government on Wednesday announced hefty fines for use of plastic bags that do not conform to prescribed norms.
The directive comes after a May 26 order of the pollution control board to take strict action against those who stock plastic bags and spread awareness among people.
But residents of Gurgaon doubt the government's efforts would yield results.
“I fear this ban will turn out to be a symbolic exercise on the lines of the ban on smoking at public places,” said Rajat Dogra, a resident of DLF City who owns a hospitality firm.
“The administration would have to be little serious and sincere to be able to implement this ban effectively, in the larger interest of the people,” he said.
There is reason for this apprehension.
The Minister of State for Environment, Forests, Tourism and Sports, Kiran Choudhry on December 24, 2008, had asked regional officers of the pollution control board to appoint environment wardens in each ward to keep a check on the use of plastic bags and products.
The minister had also asked the board to spread awareness through rallies and hold activities for environment awareness.
She had also sought a detailed report of the activities held in accordance with the calendar of events issued by the board.
Very little has been done on these fronts since then.
In drive held a fortnight ago, Haryana State Pollution Control Board (HSPCB) issued challans (tickets) to just seven shopkeepers for using and throwing plastic bags of less than 30 microns and of the size less than 8”x12” in Gurgaon, a city that has over 25,000 shopkeepers and traders.
Ambika Aggarwal, a resident of DLF City, said though the ban was a workable decision, she had reservations on whether the Gurgaon administration would be able to implement it.
“Its policing and monitoring power was weak,” she said.
Gurgaon administration officials claimed lack of manpower would not come in the way of implementation.
Rajesh Khullar, commissioner of the Municipal Corporation of Gurgaon, said his department was preparing to implement the ban effectively.
“We will ensure public awareness through campaigns held with the help of the people,” he said. “We are also preparing a team to led by an inspector to implement a ban on the ground level. We will also get them trained and buy gauge meters.”
Chand Saini, regional officer at the HSPCB, said Gurgaon does not have even one plastic bag-manufacturing unit and the traders were sourcing the stuff from Delhi and Uttar Pradesh.
Plastic bags and utensils trader K.L. Pahwa said instead of slapping a ban all of a sudden, the government should have provided an alternative to plastic bags.
“Plastic bags are part of people’s lives. Thousands depend on their trade to feed their families,” Pahwa said.