Nine months on, plastic bags still in use in Mumbai markets
Nine months after the state-wide plastic ban came into force on June 23, 2018, plastic bags continue to be in circulation at markets across the city.
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) had formed a blue squad to ensure that the ban is implemented successfully across all establishments. The squad has visited around 6.95 lakh establishments after the ban came into effect, and has collected over 52,340kg of bags since then. The civic body has also collected a fine of ?2.76 crore on offenders.
However, a member of the squad stated that despite initiating action, vendors and consumers continue to use plastic bags.
“Despite imposing heavy fines [Rs 5,000 for first offence, Rs 10,000 for second offence and Rs 25,000 and a three-month jail term for the third offence], plastic bags continue to be in circulation in the markets, as vendors and buyers are yet to make optimum use of the alternatives to plastic. The alternatives are not cost-effective, nor are they easy to access,” he said
The BMC’s own plan to auction over 52 tonnes of seized plastic bags for recycling has not seen much progress, as the first bid to auction the plastic received only one tender. The seized plastic bags have now been kept at the civic body’s godowns.
Sharad Bande, superintendent of licence department, said, “We had invited tenders from recyclers who are approved by the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board, but only one application came in. We will re-invite tenders soon.”
With the upcoming elections, many members of the blue squad will be on election duty, following which it will become even more difficult for the civic body to implement the ban.
Activist James John from Action for Good Governance and Networking in India (AGNI) foundation said, “When the plastic ban came into force, establishments did not get much time to look for alternatives. Even consumers found it difficult to do away with plastic completely. The state could have implemented the ban effectively, but they missed the opportunity.”