Your Space: Any relaxations on plastic ban in Pune is unnecessary
State government’s recent decision to exempt plastic bags of 50micron from the ban has drawn mixed reactions. Pune civic body’s drives against plastic also seem to have eased. Here’s what readers have to say about the ban relief.pune Updated: Jul 15, 2018 16:45 IST
The blanket ban on plastic required herculean efforts on the part of the government, which includes the closure of manufacturing units of thin plastic bags and sensitising people about plastic use at large. In absence of these efforts, every day the government is declaring some or the other relaxation in the plastic ban which takes away the hype created by it.
Common people were trying to get used to it with their own efforts. Even warkaris walking in the rains have shown support to the plastic ban as it is very essential for saving the environment. However, the ban should have started in winter so that people would have responded more enthusiastically, but monsoon made people more inclined towards using plastic for protecting things from rain as there was hardly any alternative. By giving permission to 50 micron plastic bags, we have again reached to the starting point of the plastic ban as the rule was there already.
Maya Hemant Bhatkar
Encourage reuse of plastic
I feel that rather than implementing bans and fines, the government should encourage residents to reuse the plastic items. There should be some incentive for that, or there should be some recycling plant for plastic. One just cannot stop using plastic all of a sudden; the process is gradual. At our home, we have already started using cotton cloth bags. Even for my daughter’s birthday party, we did not use disposable plastic glasses and plates, instead we bought biodegradable plates from the market. It was rather costly compared to plastic ones, and I feel the government should give a subsidy for such items to promote the plastic-free city campaign.
Worry more about alternatives
I do not think it is a fight that is to be lost this early. Pune took some serious measures with the plastic ban, but at the same time, we also have been dependent on it for several years. Completely yielding to the use of plastic would be a matter of distress as it was seen - the strike that followed the ban - even then, in my personal opinion, I feel that while they are putting a ban and collecting fines from all over, they should probably worry more about an alternative.
Also, during the entire ban, it felt as if the small-scale businesses were more affected than the large scale businesses, be it a milk parlour or a jam factory. While the state should not loosen up on the notion of plastic-free environment, they should also implement effective measures in order to make residents understand the importance of it, along with alternatives.
Ensure paper, cloth bags are available
Banning plastic is a very good move by the government. However, honestly speaking, I have not come across police fining residents for carrying one. On the other hand, some are actually making it a point by not carrying plastic under the fear of being fined. I think that government should first ensure large-scale production of paper and cloth bags and also make them available all over. Then, plastic will not be a necessity.
One thing is for sure, the ban on plastic has definitely reduced the hoarding of plastic bags in one’s kitchen which was usually kept for ‘future use’.
Is government serious about the ban?
We would neither spit on the roads of Dubai nor throw trash on the roads of US as it is not allowed. However, when we are in India, we will do all this even though it is banned. Why? I will give you a clue. When I was in school, students were not allowed to speak with each other in the class. Students never spoke in the class of the strictest teacher and never kept quiet when the teacher who used to just ask us to keep quiet was around.
The reason is quite evident. When those who make the law dilute it in a week, how is anyone going to feel the intensity of the issue? Diluting the law can be linked to it not being so strict or the repercussions being not so harmful, thus leading to the ones implementing it relaxing the implementation of the ban. The reason why people are not serious is not just because they are not aware. The fact is that the government, through such dilutions, shows that it is not that serious about the implementation as much as it is about the dilution.
It is the ministers who should first be informed and be serious about the reasons behind banning plastic. If our ministers want to transform our cities to those, like Shanghai, New York or Tokyo, they should start implementing the change they want to see.
As a responsible resident, I had proactively banned plastic even before the government banned it, have you?
Start bringing your own veggie bags
Since the fine on the use of plastic came in place, our daily business suffered. People came to the market and expected carry bags (polythene) for the vegetables. When we had to get rid of the plastic bags, we had to take back the products as the customers did not bring their own bags. Now, slowly they have started bringing their bags and I support the ban. Momentarily we are suffering, but it will save us in the long run. This new material will not undo the damage done by the normal carry bags.
50-micron relief should not come in
People do not want to and will not change in a day, but they do not wish to stop buying either. Therefore, a solution is needed. While the business suffered a lot in the initial days, we also realise that we had to provide separate bags for each vegetable in order for them to take them. The ban has actually saved us several plastic-bag packets worth of money. The new 50-micron alternative should not come in. What is the use of we suffering if some other form of plastic is going to be introduced in place of the earlier one?
Small vendors hardly have options
I drive a rickshaw and my mother runs a business of flowers used for pooja and decoration. We used to deliver and sell flowers in plastic bags. Now the delivery to single households can still be made in old newspapers, but monsoon makes that difficult too. The raddhi (scrap paper) vendor also increased his price. I am not against the ban, but what option is my mother left with when plastic bags were taken off the shelves overnight? Provide us with an alternative.
Life without plastic is possible
There were times when we lived without plastic. I am not saying we should go back in time, it is just that we are aware of a way of life without plastic. The fines should be levied vehemently so that people know the seriousness of the situation. Awareness and alternatives should also be introduced step-by-step. It has to be simultaneous. Although, this new 50-micron plastic may not be the ideal alternative.
Alternatives should be feasible
Day by day, the accumulation of plastic in the environment is becoming a major hazard to the ecosystem. Also, the dumping of such non-degradable waste will be the big question in front of municipal corporations. Earlier, it seemed like the government was getting a strong hold on the ban on plastic, but within the first few days, the government took a U-turn, thus nullifying the seriousness of the implementation.
With the awareness drive, there is also a need to avail the strong option of materials which will replace these plastic bags. The government came so hurriedly to the decision without any proper management. In my personal life, from day one itself, I have started avoiding plastic bags to carry any type of materials shopped and also purchased jute bags of good quality to carry grocery.
In fact, the government should have carried out awareness campaigns for the last one year. The available options should also be user friendly and economically feasible. I believe that public will definitely welcome the move and implementation will happen at the every stage.
First Published: Jul 15, 2018 16:45 IST