Rehman sits in his meat shop looking morose as he packs some mutton in a newspaper for a customer.
“Since the plastic ban was implemented three days ago we have suffered a loss of 80% in our business,” says, Rehman, who owns the shop.
“We have paper bags, but they’re useless as it can’t hold eggs. Carrying chicken in those bags is difficult. The chicken gets stuck to the paper and if we pack it in a newspaper the print of the newspaper is traced on the chicken, damaging it.
Rehman is one of those who has been affected by the statewide ban on plastic which has already been implemented in the city.
Usage of plastic bags, cutlery, and other cheap alternatives are prohibited in Maharashtra. A heavy fine would be imposed on the retailer as well as the consumer if found violating the rules.
The meat industry is facing a major impact of the ban, as they were not provided with an alternative to the plastic. Retailers are also finding it difficult to pack it in a paper bags.
The problem does not end there for Rehman and other meat sellers.
“We also had a delivery business, but the recent ban has made it difficult and we have stopped the delivery service because we can’t afford it anymore. We’re not against the ban but an alternative to it is certainly needed before it is put in force,” Rehman adds.
Tahir Khan a businessman says, “A ban without any alternative to plastic and paper is a harassment. It is worse than demonetisation. The unemployment rate in the state is already high, and now with the ban, the livelihood of many workers in the industry is in danger.
“Fruit, vegetable, milk and meat vendors are going through a tough time. They haven’t given a choice apart from using paper which is also not feasible. These vendors struggle to earn Rs 200-300 and they are fined with Rs 5,000 without even giving them an alternative to plastic bags.
“Thousands of working women buy vegetables, fruits and meat on their way back home, and adding to that they’re expected to carry their cloth bags and tiffins. How convenient is that?”
A local fisherman Ramesh says, “Our customers have started getting their own tiffins. Initially when the ban was implemented we use to wrap it a newspaper, but the water use to keep dripping from the newspaper. There is no affordable packing material available in the market apart from the plastic bags.
“I am not an educated person, but as far as I know using paper is going to damage the environment more than that of the plastic bags,” he adds.
“We hardly have a choice, this ban is unreasonable,” quips a working woman Sarita Dhumale.
“The government is expecting us to carry 4-5 tiffins on our way to work if we have to buy anything on our way back or buy packaged food which is sold in plastic packing. There could have been better ways to tackle the situation by recycling and reusing it. At least allow us to use the plastic bags we already have,” she adds.
Rohit Lipare, a student says, “The city has the highest student population. We stay in rented houses with limited utensils and plastic bags have been the biggest saviour to us so far. Are we supposed to buy utensils which will be of no use once we migrate?”
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