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Plastic menace back in Panvel; lax civic officials cite staff shortage

By Padmja Sinha, Navi Mumbai
PUBLISHED ON JAN 26, 2020 01:00 AM IST

The banned plastic has come back in Panvel nodes. Shop keepers have started giving out goods in plastic bags.

After the plastic ban in 2018, the civic body had swung into action to seize plastic but now they have slowed down.

Sridhar Raj, 34, a resident of Kamothe, said, “Initially, plastic bags were not seen in vegetable markets and vendors would ask us to get our own bags. However, for the past three months, most vendors are giving plastic bags. I have complained about this.”

Residents were encouraged to shun plastic and carry cloth bags for their shopping.

“When people have started carrying their own bags and have become more responsible, the civic body needs to be more vigilant,” said Abhinav Date, 32, a Kharghar resident.

The civic body has cited lack of manpower to take action against plastic use. Officials said they are busy in Swachh survey and will initiate drive only after the survey is over.

Jameer Lengrekar, additional commissioner of PCMC, said, “We have received complaints and have acted on some but due to lack of staff we cannot keep a close watch. We will take strict action after Swachh survey is over.”

“The team from the Centre may visit the city for the survey anytime so we need to be prepared,” said Lengrekar.

Though residents are trying to cope up with the ban and have shifted to eco-friendly measures, they are discouraged by unchecked usage of the banned plastic items at shops and other outlets in the city.

The anti-plastic squad of PCMC has no drives planned as most of them are busy with Swachh Survekshan.

A PCMC official requesting anonymity said, “The drive against plastic usage has slowed down. There is not enough manpower now.”

Earlier, vendors too had unanimously decided not to give plastic bags to customers.

Ganesh Singh, a vegetable vendor in Kamothe, said, “I don’t give plastic bags to customers but I see others have started using plastic as some want it. This is a wrong trend and others may follow same.”

The banned plastic bags are seen at many outlets including super markets across the city.

“When government has come up with a rule, action should be strict,” said Soham Dutta, 40, an environmentalist.

“People came up with ways to support the ban and embrace eco-friendly options. If civic body itself fails to curb the menace, then it’s discouraging for others as well,” said Dutta.

PCMC had set up plastic collection centres at Kharghar, Kamothe, Kalamboli and Panvel where people were supposed to deposit plastic waste. The helpline numbers are defunct.

A civic official said, “The centres have been closed but whoever wants to deposit plastic products can do so at PCMC headquarters itself.”

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