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Plastic ban in Maharashtra: Vendors in Mumbai markets struggle to make the switch

Vegetable, fruit, meat and fish vendors complain that they are facing issues such as affordability, lack of better alternatives and loss in business

mumbai Updated: Nov 24, 2017 10:24 IST
Geetanjali Gurlhosur
Geetanjali Gurlhosur
Hindustan Times
Mumbai,Plastic ban,Maharashtra
A vegetable and fruit vendor poses with a paper bag in Powai.(HT)

Since the state has announced a blanket ban on plastic bags from March 2018, the civic body has been trying to strictly ensure market vendors and traders across the city stop giving out plastic bags to their customers. The HT spoke to traders and vendors of several markets to find out how successful the shift from plastic to its alternatives has been.

The municipal market at Worli Naka was one of the first few markets to stop providing plastic bags. However, vendors said most of them had gone back to the practice as customers tend not to carry their own bags. Dattatrey Salunkhe, who sells eggs and curry masala in the market, stopped keeping plastic bags in 2006. “Since then, I have been giving paper bags to customers for free. Up to a dozen eggs can fit in the bigger paper bag but sometimes customers want plastic bags as they are easier to carry.”

Namdev Lendve, a vendor in Powai’s Hiranandani market, has been selling vegetables and fruits in paper bags as an alternative since the past 6 months. Like many other vendors, he would otherwise spend Rs100-200 per day on a packet of plastic bags.

Traders and vendors in Juhu Church market, who recently switched to cloth/paper bags, are confident that the shift from plastic can be successful. Harshad Gala, owner of a general store, said it would be easy to switch to cloth and paper bags. “What do you think we used before plastic? A blanket ban would definitely help the situation now.”

While vendors said they supported the ban on plastic, some said it would be impossible to enforce a complete ban. Affordability, lack of better alternatives and loss in business are some problems that vegetable, fruit, meat and fish vendors faced.

Naresh Shah, who owns a 60-year-old stationery shop, said that he has switched to cloth bags but they are cost about Rs10 a piece. “Only 10%-20% shoppers bring their own bags to market. I cannot afford to give cloth bags for free and nobody likes to pay the extra amount.”

Chicken/mutton vendors said they cannot use paper or cloth bags as they either get torn or spoiled. According to Hitendra Sankhye, head inspector at Vile Parle ( E) municipal market that stopped giving out plastic sleeves several years ago, some fish vendors were caught with plastic bags because there is no other viable option.

Some also suggested penalising plastic bag sellers and manufacturers instead. “Even if some hawkers stop providing the plastic sleeves, customers prefer those hawkers who do provide. No hawker wants to lose their customers,” said Salma Shaikh of Hawkers’ Azad Union.

First Published: Nov 23, 2017 23:30 IST