The BMC spent Rs25 lakh on its month-long campaign against plastic bags, issuing advertisements decrying the use of plastic in leading newspapers. It managed to collect about Rs17 lakh in fines, and seized 5,800 kg of plastic in the drive.
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s drive against plastic bags less than 50 microns thick started on June 17 and ended on July 18. It involved spreading awareness and implementing the ban on thin plastic bags. The civic body even conducted raids on shopkeepers and traders who used thin plastic. Many, however, are questioning the drive’s success, considering the expense involved. Sujata Chaturvedi, member of the Mahavir Nagar federation, which initiated a campaign against thin plastic bags, said such drives did not require such huge expenses. “The BMC’s efforts can’t be restricted to spreading awareness. They need to involve citizens because it is the mindset of people that needs to be changed, which can be achieved only through reaching out to them.”
Other indicators have led activists to question the success of the BMC drive. For instance, while the BMC seized 4,086 kg of thin plastic bags in March — without any such drive — it managed to seize only 5,800 kg during June’s month-long campaign, just marginally higher than March’s figure. A senior civic official involved with the drive said: “Such drives are conducted to increase awareness about the harmful effects of plastic bags. It is not fair to declare a drive unsuccessful just on the basis of numbers.”
The main reason for the 2005 floods in Mumbai was the uncontrolled use of plastic, according to the civic body. It had started the drive in an attempt to make sure the rampant use of plastic bags did not clog up the city’s drains and cause floods.
Rajendra Bhosale, deputy municipal commissioner (special), defended the expenditure incurred and said, “The drive was very successful in creating awareness. The expenditure that the civic body incurred in issuing advertisements went a long way to ensure the drive was successful.”
Bhosale also added: “Although the drive is now over, necessary action will be taken against the use of plastic bags at the ward level.”