Afraid of a backlash, retailers in the city feel charging for plastic carry bags will not only spoil their relations with the customers, but also result in harassment from civic officials.
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) recently issued a notification asking big and small shops to charge shoppers Rs2, Rs4, Rs5 and Rs6 according to the size of the plastic bag.
However, the Federation of Retail Traders Welfare Association (FRTWA) plans to approach the Bombay high court against the notification claiming that it is unlawful to force anyone to charge for the same.
“It is embarrassing for us to ask consumers to pay extra. Also, it will result in unnecessary arguments,” said Viren Shah, president, FRTWA.
“There is hardly any alternative to plastic. If it is so harmful, it should be banned completely,” he added.
Mitesh Gala, a shopkeeper from Hindmata, agreed. “Giving a carry bag to a customer is a value-added service. This move will result in more trouble for us.”
The BMC defended its notification, which was framed according to the Plastic Waste (Management and Handling Rules), 2011. “We are not interested in penal action, but want the consumers to feel the pinch and reduce the usage of plastic bags,” said Rajendra Bhosale, deputy municipal commissioner (special). “The ultimate result will be that shoppers will carry bags from their homes.”
Most retail shops in malls are already charging customers and have put up boards informing them about the new charge being levied.
However, customers aren’t convinced that the BMC’s move will discourage the use of plastic carry bags. “Instead of charging us, why not just completely ban plastic bags?” asked Canny Singh, a resident of Lokhandwala.
Social worker Ashraf Khan said, “Charging people for bags will cause a lot of inconvenience. We can’t use paper bags as they tend to tear easily and jute bags are not very handy.”
The state government had banned use of polythene bags below 50 microns thickness after massive flooding in the city on July 26, 2005.