This weekend sees the start of a new movement in the city of Mumbai. Yes, from today getting plastic bags from your local vendors has become an issue of argument and most of your favorite curry dishes too can go missing for takeaway as the state government’s ban on plastic use comes into effect. This statewide movement bans several single use plastic items such as disposable one time use cutlery, thermocol and plastic carry bags.
Penalties are to be levied on anyone who is found in possession of such plastic items and it also will depend on the number of times the offence is committed. A first time offender is to be fined Rs. 5000 and the second time offender Rs. 10,000. The third time violator of this rule will have to face some serious actions such as a three months jail plus fine of Rs. 25,000. To make sure that the rules implemented be observed strictly by the vendors, shopkeepers, hawkers and costumers, the BMC has formed a 249 member’s squad. From today you will see these BMC personnel in dark blue waistcoat spread across the city carrying an authorized letter by the local Deputy Municipal Commissioner to fine anyone found with the banned items.
As quoted in the HINDUSTAN TIMES report, Assistant Municipal Commissioner, who is also responsible for training this squad, Sangeeta Hansale, said, “We have taught them not to threaten people. We have also explained to them what exactly is banned and what the fines are.” Saying that main priority over the weekend is to create as much awareness as possible, she further added, “We have strictly informed the squad to go easy on children, the elderly and women who are seen using plastic. Our first approach would be to seize the plastic bag and explain the ban. The fines will be imposed later.” This BMC squad comprises of officials from the license department, the markets department and the encroachment department, 10 members being assigned for each ward.
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Any unlicensed hawkers found to be offenders of this rule, their plastic bags are likely to be seized along with other items. In case, the licensed hawkers are found violating the law, their detail will be taken and they will immediately be registered as the first offenders. Rules regarding the citizens as reported by the Hindustan Times, any citizen coming in the way of enforcements of this ban can be booked as an offender under section 353 of the Indian Penal Code and their actions will be taken as an assault or criminal force to restrain a public servant from discharging his or her duty. To prevent any actions of corruption and unruly behavior from the squad, all the information regarding the squad members has been displayed on the BMC website.
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As quoted in the Hindustan Times, Deputy Municipal Commissioner of special department, Nidhi Choudhari, informed, “We have published the information of all members of plastic ban squad, including names and pictures so the public knows who they are. Their details are on the MCGM website.”
It is found that 80 per cent of banned plastic items are manufactured in Gujarat and brought into Maharashtra. According to The Asian Age report, Environment Minister Ramdas Kadam with regard to the banned plastics brought in Maharashtra said, “Anybody caught bringing in banned plastic goods will be imprisoned for three months.” He also addressed the issue of many people losing their jobs as this ban will hit hard to the particular industries. Kadam further added, “We will find alternative jobs for those affected in Maharashtra.”
With people still processing all this ban information, there is this very sensitive issue of this year’s Ganeshotsav celebration as many ‘Mandals’ (Ganesh Tent) start preparing for months in advance. The thermocol decorations used could come in the way of this ban. But according to The Asian Age report, there is a good news as Shiv Sena Environment Minister, Kadam, informed that the committee authorized for the ban will discuss the issue and an exemption might be granted to these Ganesh mandals only if they can guarantee that these thermocol products will be later handed over to the municipal corporation for disposal.
This movement for the city is a big change to cope with. However, we need to change with time for good as rightly quoted by George Bernard Shaw, “Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” If only we just stop and take a look in the past year, we will remember how the city was flooded due to clogged drainage system and not to forget that tons of garbage been thrown out by the sea on the shoreline that disturbs marine life. It is a difficult change but definitely a good one which can be made easier with co-operation and understanding from everyone.