A month after ban: Plastic sticks ugly head out of garbage bags in Pune

While the Pune municipal corporation reported a decline in plastic ban in the city by over 30 tonnes, city-based NGO refutes claim saying decrease is not more than five tonnes

pune Updated: Jul 24, 2018 16:40 IST
Parth Welankar
Parth Welankar
Hindustan Times, Pune
Pune,plastic ban,garbage bags
According to Swach workers involved in garbage collection, there is a slight increase in the amount of plastic waste. (RAHUL RAUT/HT PHOTO )

The Maharashtra government implemented a statewide ban on plastic on June 23 and a month after the ban, the Pune municipal corporation (PMC) has claimed that there has been a significant decline in the use of plastic by over 30 tonnes. However, city-based NGO Swach, in a contradictory opinion, refuted the civic body claims and said that the decline in use of plastic has been very minimal.

Monica Walujkar, an official from the solid waste management department of the PMC, said, “Post the statewide plastic ban, the use of plastic has reduced significantly. From day one of the ban, PMC has been successfully implementing it. Consequently, a sense of fear has been generated among the public which has made them refrain from using plastic items. This is one of the biggest reasons behind the decline in the use of plastic.”

Plastic in the city post the ban has reduced by over 30 tonnes, added Walujkar.

However, NGO Swach has contradicted PMC’s claim saying that the use of plastic is reduced, but not more than five tonnes.

NGO Swach is Pune’s cooperative of informal wastepickers, completely owned and managed by them. It is in contract with the PMC to provide door-to-door collection service to the residents of Pune as per the PMC General Body Resolution No 257, dated August 24, 2015.

Out of sight, out of mind
The first week of plastic ban saw strict implementation by the civic body, however, now PMC seems to have become lenient
According to PMC officials, the government resolution (GR) issued by the state government on July 2 had a lot of things exempted from the ban. This created a lot of hindrances in taking actions against those violating plastic norms. However, after a meeting which took place last week, the PMC has now decided to take actions against a minimum of 25 traders per day from every ward in the city.
30 tonnes
PMC suggests that over 30 tonnes of plastic has reduced post the ban
5 tonnes
City-based NGO Swach says not more than 5 tonnes of plastic has reduced in the city

According to Harshad Barde, spokesperson of Swach, “While initially the use of plastic was reduced, however, it is again on the rise across the city. We have around 3,000 wastepickers working in each and every ward of the city. We ask the wastepickers about the status of plastic waste based on the garbage collected and we have seen a slight increase in the amount of plastic waste.”

He added, “Indeed, there is a decline in the use of plastic after the ban, however, that is very minimal. Also, residents have now switched to multi-layered plastic used for packaging of various things, like snacks, to dispose their household waste which is even more dangerous.”

Another member of Swach, requesting anonymity, said, “The PMC initially had rigorous implementation of the plastic ban. However, gradually their actions reduced which has led to the sale of plastic bags by small traders and hotels. If this persists for long, the plastic ban may head for a failure.”

PMC’s daily target: fine 25 traders from each ward

While the Pune municipal corporation (PMC) left no stone unturned in taking action against those who violated the plastic ban in the city during the initial days, now, the pace of conducting the drive against plastic seems to have slowed down.

The plastic ban was implemented in the state from June 23. PMC has so far taken action in 337 cases for violating the norms of the plastic ban. Out of the total 337 cases, the PMC took action in 276 cases in the first week of the ban, while only 61 cases were reported by the PMC after the first week.

Monica Walujkar, an official from the solid waste management department, PMC, said, “The state government issued a new government resolution (GR) on July 2. Many changes were done in the norms giving exemption to a few things in the list which were banned initially. It has reduced the pace at which PMC is conducting the drive against the ban.”

According to Walujkar, PMC is resuming their drive with a set target seeking 25 traders daily who violate the ban.

She said, “In a meeting, which took place on Friday, we have decided to resume our drive against the plastic violations taking place in the city. Considering the decline in the amount of cases, all the sanitary inspectors and deputy sanitary inspectors from every ward have been asked to take action against at least 25 traders who violate the ban in the city.”

Meanwhile, another problem faced by the PMC is to transport the plastic collected from all the respective wards to the PMC plant where it will be converted into fuel.

Walujkar said, “We will convert all the plastic collected into refuse-derived fuel (RDF). This is not only a good way of generating wealth out of waste, but also the correct form of disposal of the accumulated plastic waste. However, transporting the waste to the PMC’s Bhumi green plant, located at Wadgaon, is a big problem for us.”

She added, “All the ward offices were given the responsibility to dump collected plastic in the plant at Wadgaon. However, because it is difficult for them to do so, we have now decided to collected it from all the wards and then dump it at the plant.”

Ban implemented without giving alternatives, says Vibhore Meghawale, owner, The Cheese Truck

The vigorous implementation of the plastic ban resulted in a lot o f hardships for small vendors and traders who were left with very few affordable alternatives. Vibhore Meghawale, owner of a popular food truck in Vimannagar called ‘The Cheese Truck’, talks to Parth Welankar about the problems he faced during the one month of the ban. Excerpts from his interview:

Are you in favour of the plastic ban?

It is very difficult for the people in this fraternity to support the plastic ban, because plastic items are one of the most used things in our business. It includes plastic products used to parcel food items or plastic glasses for cold drinks; plastic use is indispensable. Since the government has banned these items, we tried using paper plates and paper glasses. However, it failed to become an alternative to plastic. This took a major toll on our business as home deliveries have reduced significantly. Nevertheless, we have to abide by the plastic ban incurring all these financial loss, whether we support it or not.

What are the problems you faced after the implementation of plastic ban?

The plastic ban has put a lot of financial pressure on our fraternity, at the same time causing a lot inconvenience as well. The government rigorously implemented the plastic ban. However, they have failed to provide an affordable alternative to the plastic items. Plastic carry bags that we used cost us 50 paise per carry bag. However, the cost of the paper bag we are compelled to use costs us around Rs 5 per bag. Now, because the PMC has been implementing ban rigorously, we are forced to use the costlier alternative to plastic, against our wish.

Has the PMC fined your food outlet?

No, the PMC has not fined us. Right from the day when the plastic ban was implemented we switched to paper bags. We are also abiding by the other norms of the plastic ban. We have not faced any civic action till now.

First Published: Jul 24, 2018 16:40 IST