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Thursday, Oct 17, 2019

One year on: Plastic- free Pune still a distant dream

The drive against traders and the public was eventually discontinued in view of the resistance, as there were no alternatives available to plastic bags in the market and many had to lose jobs in the manufacturing units, and also in view of the impending Lok Sabha elections

pune Updated: Mar 16, 2019 14:28 IST
Abhay Khairnar and Parth Welankar
Abhay Khairnar and Parth Welankar
Hindustan Times, Pune
Plastic mixed with garbage at Baner - Pashan separation shade in Pune.
Plastic mixed with garbage at Baner - Pashan separation shade in Pune.(Ravindra Joshi/HT PHOTO)
         

Maharashtra government’s ‘plastic ban’ introduced on March 18, 2018, with much planning and determination to fight plastic pollution, has been partially successful.

The state government had been successful in banning the sale of thermocol, the sale of plastic bags in shops and has closed plastic bags manufacturing units in the state. However, a number of banned items such as plastic bags of less than 10 microns, cutlery and disposable cups and plates are back in shops and are being used widely.

The government had given a three-month window to consumers and retailers to get rid of the existing stock.

This ban was a second attempt by the government, after the first one in 2006, which was implemented soon after the Mumbai floods. During the floods, sewage pipes and canals were choked with plastic garbage.

Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) had enforced the ban strictly by creating squads and conducting raids on market places and shops. At least 170 inspectors were deployed in all the 15 wards.

The drive against traders and the public was eventually discontinued in view of the resistance, as there were no alternatives available to plastic bags in the market and many had to lose jobs in the manufacturing units, and also in view of the impending Lok Sabha elections.

Satish Gujar, a hawker in the city, said, “I use to give fruits in newspaper bags to consumers. However, after resistance from citizens and fear of losing our regular customers I have started giving plastic bags.”

“PMC or Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB), has not taken any action against us,” he added.

Nitin Wakade, a consumer, said, “I use to carry a cotton bag with me whenever I visited the market. However, now as the plastic bags are easily available, I have stopped carrying a cotton bag.”

PMC sanitary inspector requesting anonymity said, “It is true that many hawkers are using plastic carry bags which are below 50 microns. Despite knowing this we cannot fine them as they are hardly earning Rs 200 to Rs 300 per day.”

61 % shopkeepers in city have stopped giving plastic carry bags to consumers: survey

A survey conducted by a city-based social enterprise, Ecoexist, in collaboration with Oikos and Ecological Society, has claimed that 61 per cent of shopkeepers in the city have stopped giving plastic carry bags to consumers, after the ban introduced on March 18, 2018.

According to the survey results 98 per cent of the shopkeepers are aware of the ban.

Students from Fergusson College, Wadia College, Bharati Vidyapeeth and Kaveri College along with other neighbourhood groups were involved in the 15-question survey about the effectiveness of the ban.

The survey was primarily directed at retail shopkeepers - from vegetable vendors to street food vendors; small and large grocery stores; and restaurants, along with several other shop types. A total of 42 locations in Pune were covered and 1,142 shopkeepers were interviewed.

The questions included the levels of awareness about the ban, whether it was perceived positively or negatively, and whether shops had indeed stopped giving out plastic bags.

The statement issued by Ecoexist states, “While the results of the survey are encouraging our volunteers also reported that the supply chain of plastic bags continues and they are freely available and distributed in large central markets like Shivaji market and Market Yard.

“The fear of paying a fine is still quite strong in the shops, however, the government needs to keep a consistent check. It is important for regular monitoring to ensure that the city does not slip back into the use of plastic bags,” suggested the survey.

First Published: Mar 16, 2019 14:28 IST

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