The Pune municipal administration has rejected allegations made by traders and said that the administration is only taking action against the use of plastic carry bags and thermocol, and is not imposing fines on packaging material. The Pune district traders’ association alleged that the municipal administration tormented traders by carrying out the drive on Saturday and warned of going on a strike from Monday. Sachin Nivangune, head of Pune district retail traders association, warned of a strike from Monday to show their opposition over the administration’s drive against traders. He said that the association is in favour of the plastic ban, but the civic administration should not trouble the traders in the name of the ban. Suresh Jagtap, head of the solid waste management department at Pune municipal corporation (PMC), who is also spearheading the drive against use of plastic, refused the allegations made by city traders. Jagtap said that the state government announced the plastic ban decision three months ago. The civic body did not carry out the drive until Saturday, but focussed on creating awareness about the plastic ban among the residents.Saturday was the first day of the drive and PMC took action only against the use of carry bags and thermocol. “The municipal administration did not want to ‘torture’ anyone and was just executing the state government’s decision. It is better if residents and traders come forward and submit the plastic items at the collection centre,” added Jagtap. He said that the PMC will discuss the issues with the traders. He added that the civic body would not take action against the packing material, but at the same time, will take strict action against the use of plastic carry bags. Sunday - no work dayPune municipal corporation collected ~3.79 lakh fines on Saturday through the drive. Suresh Jagtap, said since it was a Sunday, employees were on holiday and there was no PMC action against plastic use in the city. However, from Monday, the drive will be executed across the city, added Jagtap.PCMC takes the day off tooLike the Pune municipal corporation (PMC), the Pimpri Chinchwad municipal corporation too took a day off from implementing the drive against the use of plastic in the twin township on Sunday. However, on day one of the drive on Saturday, PCMC collected fines worth Rs 2.5 lakh from violators of the plastic ban.Dilip Gawde, additional commissioner of PCMC, said, “There was no action against anyone on Sunday as officials were on their weekly off. The civic body will resume work of imposing fines from Monday. On Saturday, we raided 18 shops and collected around 140 kilogrammes of banned plastic items. From next week onwards, we will continue our drive on Sunday too.” On Saturday, PCMC appointed 32 three-member squads that visited the Pimpri market, various shops across the township and commercial establishments in all 32 wards to ensure strict implementation of the plastic ban. “From the very first day, we ensured strict action against those found guilty. Also, we are encouraging the residents to shift to alternatives instead of using banned plastics,” Gawde added. When Hindustan Times interacted with vendors at the Pimpri market, many shopkeepers alleged that there were no alternatives specified by the government. Manohar Jethani, a dry fruit trader from Pimpri market, said, “Though we welcome the plastic ban, the government should have provided alternatives, because it is difficult to impose the ban otherwise.” Elaborating the action plan for next week, Manoj Lonkar, head of PCMC health department, said, “By Monday, we will concentrate on shops with higher footfall, such as shopping malls, big commercial establishments and complexes.” Lonkar informed that collection of banned items will also continue at PCMC’s waste segregation centres at Mulshi.