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Polythene returns to Noida markets as admin attention shifts to Covid

ByKushagra Dixit
Jun 20, 2020 11:32 PM IST

Noida: While authorities are busy dealing with the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, the old menace of plastic bags has returned to the city even as the ban on single-use

Noida: While authorities are busy dealing with the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, the old menace of plastic bags has returned to the city even as the ban on single-use plastic continues.

Banned by the state government in 2018, which was reinstated in 2019 by the Noida authority, single-use plastics – especially polythene bags – are now being used uninhibited across markets in Noida, especially by vegetable vendors and even some super-markets.

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“Many customers do bring their own bags but if they don’t, many often quarrel over the bags that we provide, as they don’t want to pay 10 to 20 extra for a bag. So we had to supply the polythene bags which we give free of cost. Everyone is using it and we have to cater to the demand of the customers as well. So far we have seen no objection,” said a grocery store owner in Sector-76, who did not wish to be named.

Vegetable vendors reiterated the sentiment, saying customers often don’t bring their own bags and that the jute or cloth bags are expensive.

“Due to the lockdown, sales have dropped a lot. We used to set up a shop at a local vegetable market in Sector 77 but that has been closed due to the ongoing crisis. At such a time, all we care about is getting our business back on track. Almost everyone is using polythene bags now and there are no issues with supply either,” said a roadside fruit and vegetable vendor at the Sector 50 market.

Last year in a massive drive held in October, a total 30 tonnes of different forms of single-use plastics, most of which were polythene bags, were collected by the Noida authority, which was later disposed as fuel in cement factories. An additional two tonnes was confiscated by the authority and administration from different shops, restaurants and road side vendors.

The state government’s ban came on July 15, 2018. The Uttar Pradesh Plastic and Other Non-Biodegradable Garbage (Regulation of Use and Disposal) Act, 2000, was amended and an ordinance was issued for this.

According to the ordinance, punishment for violations for the first conviction can result in a month prison term or a fine of a minimum of 1,000 and a maximum of 10,000. The second or subsequent conviction can incur a prison term of six months or a fine of a minimum of 5,000 and a maximum of 25,000.

Officials of the Noida authority said while the ban is still under effect, a lot could have slipped due to the lockdown, imposed to curb the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The current status is that plastic is still banned, however, during the lockdown, obviously the priorities were entirely different and thus there could be issues with compliances. But now as markets are reopening, we will soon restart vigilance. Single use plastics will not be tolerated in the city,” said Avinash Tripathi, officer on special duty, health, Noida Authority.

“Last year we seized and punctured 1.5 to two tonnes of single use plastics from different shops and they are yet to be disposed of,” Tripathi added.

Officials also pointed out that during the lockdown, some volunteers also distributed food packets in polythene bags, who were later requested to switch to non-plastic alternatives.

According to environmentalists, though the helplessness of authorities during the lockdown is understood as a lot of people wanted to use disposable carry bags and other items, the authorities should now, however, start taking the menace seriously.

“During lockdown there were certain compulsions, but now the unlocking has started. Shops are reusing plastic bags and since we have to live with Covid-19 now, it is better we not get used to plastic again, which is nothing less than a pandemic itself. The authority should start looking into it,” said Vikrant Tongad, city-based environmentalist.

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