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Around 27,000 kg plastic bags seized in last one year

Shop owners and plastic traders’ association say the ban on plastic will not be successful unless cheaper alternatives are made available.

delhi Updated: Sep 01, 2018 23:51 IST
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Plastic bags,Polythene,National Green Tribunal
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) last year banned plastic bags thinner than 50 microns. (HT FILE PHOTO)

A year after the National Green Tribunal (NGT) banned plastic bags thinner than 50 microns, Delhi’s three civic corporations say they have seized nearly 27,000 kilos of plastic bags across the city.

The number of polythene bags seized would have crossed 30,000 kilos if the figures of other civic and government agencies are taken into account.

The shop owners and plastic traders’ association, however, said the ban will not be successful unless cheaper alternatives are made available. Also, plastic bags will continue to be in circulation as long as there is a demand.

Since August 2017, the civic officials had issued 2,800 challans to defaulting shopkeepers, found to be using plastic bags, which were thinner than 50 microns.

“We formed teams for each zone and they visit busy markets after regular intervals. The staff members carry implements to measure the thickness of plastic bags,” said ML Sharma, assistant commissioner, Shahdara south zone of the East Delhi Municipal Corporation.

“The drive would continue as the agencies are supposed to submit their action taken report to the Delhi government’s environment department after an interval of time,” said Sharma.

But traders say instead of just penalising shopkeepers, the civic agency should educate them as well as customers to not use banned plastic bags.

“We need to understand such drives will not be effective and violation will continue to happen unless alternatives of plastic bags are made available at a minimal cost. Otherwise, it would be unfair to expect a vegetable vendor to provide cloth or paper bags free of cost to the customers,” said Rajesh Mittal, member, plastic manufacturers and traders association in Delhi.

“Also, we need to motivate customers to carry cloth bags because most of them don’t want to pay extra money for such bags,” said Himanshu Gupta, a shopkeeper at Okhla mandi.

Though there are provisions in law to fine users, the corporation says doing that will not be easy. “We are not challenging the users or residents right now because they are not carrying plastic bags in bulk unlike shopkeepers and manufacturers. Also, going after them will be a herculean task and could lead to a law and order problem,” said senior south corporation official.

Another official said they were working to educate customers. Rajiv Jain, nodal officer for Swachhta Abhiyan in south Delhi said, “In each of the four zones, we devoted one month at least for informing shopkeepers and customers about the drive and its relevance. We even observe ‘no-plastic weeks’ in markets,” he said.

Residents have mixed reactions.

Akash Wahi, a resident of Mayur Vihar: “It is not always possible to carry a cloth bag. When you are going to the market from home you can carry one. But when you are on the road and suddenly get a call from your house to bring some items it is not possible. Even if the shopkeeper supplies a paper carry bag that would suffice.”

Anju Mahajan, a resident of Preet Vihar said: “Why doesn’t the government ban plastic bags completely? If they are not supplied no one will ask for one. ”

First Published: Sep 01, 2018 23:51 IST