Mumbai plastic ban begins today, first-time offenders will be fined Rs 5,000
From today, plastic bags from your local grocer, takeaway containers from your favourite restaurants and even garbage bags to dispose of your waste become illegal as the state government’s ban on dozens of daily-use plastic items comes into effect.
To ensure citizens, shopkeepers, hawkers and manufacturers take the ban seriously, the BMC has decided to fine offenders Rs 5,000 for the first offence. However, the fines will be imposed only from Monday.
The BMC’s 249-member squad — wearing dark-blue waistcoats — will spread themselves across the city to increase awareness about the ban. The squad will carry a signed letter from the local deputy municipal commissioner that authorises them to fine people who are seen carrying or using the banned items. Over the weekend, however, their main mandate is to increase awareness, and from Monday, they will start fining you. The squad has been trained to be polite while enforcing the ban, said assistant municipal commissioner (markets) Sangeeta Hasnale, who trained them. “We have taught them not to threaten people. We have also explained to them what exactly is banned and what the fines are.”
Initially, the squad will focus only on hawkers, retailers and malls. Hasnale said the priority was to create awareness. “We have strictly informed the squad to go easy on children, the elderly and women who are seen using plastic. Our first approach would be to seize the plastic bag and explain the ban. Fines will be imposed later.” The civic body decided to use its own staff in the squad, after the private personnel it hired to enforce an earlier clean-up drive were found to be behaving badly with citizens.
The BMC’s squad is made up of officials from three departments — license, markets and encroachment — and each ward will have 10 members looking over the ban.
If hawkers without licenses are found violating the ban, the squad will seize the plastic bags and other items.
In case of hawkers with licenses, they will have to give their details when the squad registers the offence.
If citizens come in the way of the squad enforcing the ban, they can be booked under section 353 of the IPC — assault or criminal force to deter a public servant from discharging duty.
There is, however, no way yet to prevent corruption among the squad
Learning from the past
The BMC said it had learnt lessons from the clean-up marshals fiasco, after several citizens complained of of unruly behavior and corruption.
Deputy Municipal commissioner (special) Nidhi Choudhari, said, “We have published the information of all members of the plastic ban squad, including names and pictures so the public knows who they are. Their details are on the MCGM website.”