Maharastra Plastic Ban: Open Letter

Dear destiny,

Hope you’re doing well. Well you always do but not in my life. Till date so many times I’ve tried trusting you but everytime you play with my feelings! Remember the last time I got a gold ring in the heep? I thought finally you’ve some sympathy with me and now the dark bellied clouds shall allow some light in my life. But then what happened? I lost that ring. Why do you always do this to me?

 

Now take the recent case. When on the occasion of the World Environment day, on 5 June’ 18, experts laid stress on having viable alternatives to plastics and proposed to raise a ban on plastic bags, water bottles and other disposable plastic items from June 23, I felt life would be easier now. It would be easy for me to scrounge some gold in the heep.

I was happy that this time things are serious. The Municipal Corporation is also strict with the implementation as large quantities of the banned plastic bags were confiscated and even levied stiff fines of Rs. 5,000 and Rs. 10,000.
While there was some amount of resistance from shopkeepers, the citizenry at large was reciprocating by using cloth bags and shunning plastic carry bags. However, over the last few days, plastic carry bags and the packing of food in thin polythene bags by vendors has revived, with little action from the PMC.

I felt that finally the ‘Acche din’ have come in our lives as well. Our job would be easier now.
Maharashtra is India’s biggest generator of plastic waste, producing more than 4.6 lakh tonnes of waste every year. A large proportion of the waste comprises polythene bags below 50 microns in thickness, which the Union government had banned across the country in 2016 because of the threat they pose to the ecology.

On June 23, the first day of the plastic ban, PMC took action against 104 persons and collected fines amounting to Rs 5.59 lakh. The drive was conducted aggressively till June 27. Those 5 days were a delight to us. We had to put our hands in less garbage. It gave a humanly feeling!

It went well in the initial days but then all my expectations with you came crumbling down, as it was the advent of another failure!
Hey! Why are you avoiding the attention now? Do you want to hear the reasons of this failure? Here you go sweety!

Firstly, though the intention was good but everything went in vain due to government’s lack of awareness, other substitutes and a planned structure.

◇ One of the biggest obstacles to the implementation of plastic bans on the ground is the lack of political will.

◇ No alternative of plastics bag: Gov. banned plastics without creating any alternative to plastics bag for people. Now suddenly announced by MAH. GOV. stop using plastics bag, so people are in big trouble.

◇ Lack of awareness about plastic: People in India are not well aware of the consequences of plastics littering. Gov. should enhance such awareness through camps.

◇No proper waste management: Gov. is not having proper plan for littering & waste management in India. Gov. should enforce strict punishment on people whoever is littering anywhere. Also, place the different dustbins for degradable & non-degradable material.

◇Proper time was not given to the industry to find the alternative of non-degradable plastics.

Protest against plastic ban

The plan failed because of the loopholes in the planning and execution. In a state like Maharashtra where rains are quite heavy, using plastic bags wouldn’t have been a feasible option. Though strict actions were proposed for fine and punishment but there was no clarity on how the authorised bodies would implement the ban and collect the fine.
Moreover, since the plastic manufacturers were not given enough time to exit from the market it turned out to be a nightmare for them.

If above is not done then it’s inevitable that the plan will fail. Got that? My dear well wisher!

Wait don’t run away. There’s alot more…

So, do you think this blanket ban is a great solution?
Is blanket ban a solution?

The answer to this is a big NO. In fact, the ban on plastic is no novel thing in our country. Already some 18 states in India have announced a complete ban on the manufacture, supply and storage of polythene bags and other plastic items such as cups, plates, spoons and glasses, while five states have a partial ban.

Another five states have a sort of partial ban on plastic, including sales, etc. So, of the 36 states and union territories in the country, 23 have banned plastic.

An unmistakable fact is a way in which plastic is an intrinsic part of our everyday lives, right from the toothbrush to the chairs, or the cars to the smartphones. there was a lack of waste management infrastructure, in rural or semi-urban areas. “In many villages or small towns, even if people within the household collect their waste in a bin, where do they dispose of that waste? We need better, more sustainable collection and management of such non-biodegradable waste, especially outside the big cities. Prohibiting single-use plastics, such as bags and straws, is a very welcome and much-needed step.”

The decision on material or product ban for environmental reasons may at times be easy to arrive at but requires an effective implementation to achieve desired results. The issue of restricting or banning the use of such products in limited geographical areas is fraught with serious threats of failure.

So basically the old story continues. And I’m here segregating wastes, trying to earn my bread from it. Hope when we meet next time, you’ve some better plans for me!

Yours (Can never be),

Helpless ragpicker.

Comments

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