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Plastic ban flops in Trichy

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TRICHY: Seven months after the district administration and Trichy City Corporation (TCC) reinforced the ban on plastic products less than 50 micron thickness, it is becoming clear that the restriction has failed to make any effect as far as the residents and shopkeepers are concerned. Though there are continuous awareness drives by the authorities, the lag in enforcement and penalization has resulted in the flooding of plastic waste on the roads.

The urban local body based on the ‘Plastic Waste Management Rules 2016’ notification by the union government implemented the same in August 2016, revising the thickness of the plastic products to be banned from less than 40 micron thickness to 50 micron. But as it failed to make an impact, the district administration and TCC jointly re-implemented the ban on January 26, 2018. Though the ban temporarily forced people, particularly traders, to shift to cloth bags and other environment-friendly bags, slackness in penalising the offenders has diluted the ban’s efficacy and objective. “Instead of hosting awareness rallies, authorities should pursue inspections and heavy penalisation to prevent circulation of the banned plastic bags. Awareness can be given by any NGO or common man, but we cannot penalise offenders,” K C Neelamegam, secretary of eNGO Thanneer, said.

While major shops including supermarkets in the city have switched to cloth bags with a price to be collected from their customers, small time shops and street vendors were among the majority to circulate the banned plastic carry bags.

Though the penalisation drive was active till April 2018, the civic body and other stakeholders adopted a laid-back attitude in imposing the ban for the past couple of months. Residents who fail to take with them a bag on their own and those who fail to demand cloth bags from traders are contributing to the menace.

A few hotels and meat shops in other parts of the state have offered discounts to customers who visit the shops with vessels to avoid plastic products. Such reforms, if encouraged by authorities, could have brought a behavioural change among public. Acknowledging the lag in penalising the offenders, the corporation officials said that coordination of stakeholder departments including TNPCB and district administration is needed to conduct periodic penalisation drives.

“We have been focusing on the wholesale plastic sellers and now we will increase the surveillance on shops which use the banned plastic carry bags,” an official with Trichy Corporation said.


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