Chennai: The mission to curb use of single-use plastics in the city by the Greater Chennai Corporation has slowly lost momentum five months after the ban.
Initially, there seemed to be confusion among the vendors and shopkeepers about the kind of plastics that were banned, but now the situation seems stagnant. A lot of retailers and shopkeepers are found to be secretly using and selling plastic covers for fear of losing their customer base.
“How can we avoid plastic when customers ask for them? Even when we tried to wrap flowers in a paper, they want an extra cover to carry the wrapped flowers. Only when there is complete ban on production of plastics can we avoid it. There should also be a change in the behaviour of people who come to buy stuff in the market. We are stuck in the middle and looks like only we are suffering,” says Dhinamani, a flower seller at Nesapakkam.
Officials make surprise visits to different markets in the city to seize plastic covers and products from them. Most vendors have switched to eco-friendly methods of packing and selling their products but the transition to a fully green city is nowhere near.
Customers also play a major part when it comes to curbing the use of single-use plastics, but they persistently ask for plastic carrybags from local vendors without understanding the gravity of the situation, they said.
Raja, a Corporation worker at Ashok Nagar, says, “We can clearly see a reduction in usage of plastic. I see people carry their big dustbins to dispose of their waste, which is a good sign. But, we cannot say that plastic have been completely removed from the city.”
When the ban first came into effect, there were no penal provisions, but in February, penalties for the use of 14 types of plastics were introduced. However, banned plastic bags, cups, plates are still in use in and around the city.
Local vendors say that big markets like Koyambedu and Broadway still use plastic when it comes to selling flowers and vegetables. They get these plastic bags from Broadway and only the prices of these plastic covers have increased slightly.
It is to be noted that plastic in the form of milk packets, medical equipment and those used in horticulture industries and Special Economic Zones are exempted from the ban.
Corporation conducted a consultation meeting 2 May with regard to the total ban of use-and-throw plastic.
It was recorded that 198 metric tonnes of plastic products have been seized by the authorities from thousands of shops in the city after the implementation of the ban.
Strict action, up to cancelling of licence of the violators, has been declared by the authorities of Chennai Corporation.
Corporation officials have also decided to form one team per ward to monitor the usage of plastic and take necessary action.
Report by: K R SADAKSHI