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Plastic ban: BMC squad faces brunt of Mumbai retailers’ anger

Angry SoBo retailers threaten, question BMC's anti-plastic squad, want more time, awareness and options in market.

mumbai Updated: Jun 26, 2018 11:28 IST
Sreffy Thevar
Sreffy Thevar
Hindustan Times
Mumbai,angry retailers,Plastic ban
BMC officials inspect shops at Keshavji Nayak Road near JJ hospital. (by Hemanshi Kamani/ HT Photo)

Anger, threats and slogans from retailers greeted the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s anti-plastic squad during the inspection at B-ward (Pydhonie and Sandhurst Road) on Monday.

Instead of area-wise inspections, the 24 squads were asked to look at their own wards on Monday. “We are given instructions every morning on which areas to visit. This is to keep the element of surprise and ensure nobody is forewarned,” said a member of the squad.

As the four-member squad, led by Annie George, senior inspector, shops and establishments, entered the market, a group of shopkeepers started to follow them around. A few of them started shouting slogans such as ‘Bazaar Chhodo BMC’, and even tried to intimidate them.

A local retailers’ association union leader, who identified himself as Ramesh Bhai, stopped the squad, questioning them about the lack of alternatives. “We don’t have clarity on what is banned and where to find the alternatives. We need more time. The alternatives suggested by the government are not available in the market,” he said.

Many shop owners said they were unaware of the BMC’s exhibition in Worli, while some said they didn’t attend it as they didn’t have the time. Retailers and squad members agreed that an exhibition like the one held in Worli must be held every week in each ward to clear the confusion.

A few citizens were warned against using plastic bags, but nobody was fined and shops that switched to alternatives were praised for doing so.

Squad members said their blue jackets, part of their uniform, made it difficult for them to carry out inspections, as people shut shops or hide banned items on seeing them.

By 3pm, when the squad called it a day, it had collected ₹10,000 in fine for 5kg of banned material from two shops and had inspected 33 shops.

The plastic was sent to the ward godown and the money deposited with the ward.

The confusion between polypropylene (PP) bags and cloth bags remains a major issue, especially for retailers as both look similar. The officials explained those glued are the PP bags, while those stitched at the sides are cloth bags.

One of the shop owners, who was fined for PP bags, said, “We can’t differentiate between these bags. They all look the same and now the BMC is penalising us for using them. The confusion is costing us dear.”

First Published: Jun 26, 2018 11:27 IST