In 2018, the Maharashtra government announced a complete ban on single-use plastic and thermocol items in the state and imposed a fine of Rs 5,000 on those found manufacturing, selling, distributing and using these banned items within the state limits.
However, a recent survey carried by NGOs in Pune revealed that the use of plastic may not have stopped in the city completely, despite around 61 per cent of shops within Pune Municipal Corporation limits having stopped using plastic carry bags below 50 microns.
The other shopkeepers are allegedly still using these items in view of the persistent demands from citizens and shoppers.
We spoke to active citizens who shared their views and offered solutions to banned the complete use of plastic in the city.
Mita Banerjee, Journalist and Founder of Team Miracle say, “There should be more awareness building on the dangers to health caused by excessive plastic garbage, especially these one time use plastic items.
Schools, colleges, offices, hotels, institutes etc are a good forum for creating public awareness. Government intervention is also necessary. Penalties for usage of banned plastic must be implemented strictly, Banerjee added.
Shreyasi Mane, techie says, The ban has been successful in the city- citizens are playing a vital role in saving the environment.
Every alternate person has a bag with them and nobody demands plastic. Shopkeepers are also seen using paper bags to pack food and for groceries, they’re seen using bags above 50 microns.
Apart from some meat shops, everybody can be seen following the rules. For such shops, the authorities should have a regular inspection and impose fines on them.
Meat cannot be carried in a cloth bag or paper bag, therefore, inspection is the only solution to eradicate below 50mm micron plastic bags completely, Shreyasi added.
Only a handful of people are seen using plastic. The rest of the citizens have got used to the ban and carry a bag, as most of them don’t want to pay the extra charges for the cloth bags, says Nikhil Kadam, Activist.
More can be done by creating constant awareness, surprise check drives in the city that can help in ensuring the ban enforcement.
City vegetable vendor, Suraj Pingle remarks, “The PMC authorities do visit us sometimes as customers and if they see a plastic bag below 50 microns we are fined..
I have paid the fine once and now am only using the bags as prescribed. However, the visits are not that frequent, but it is better to be safe rather than paying a fine.
A fruit vendor in the neighbourhood has this to say ” None of my customers asks for bags, I don’t have plastic bags nor do I sell cloth bags. I either box the fruits or give it as it is in their hands.
Though, most of the time people are seen carrying bags, be it a backpack, or just using their two-wheeler storage to keep the purchases.