It’s not traders and shopkeepers defying the plastic ban who will be in trouble with the civic body. Citizens caught using plastic bags may also be fined. The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) is all set to strictly enforce the ban from Monday.
The State-wide ban came into effect in March 2016, following which the BBMP issued a circular in May, fixing the penalty on all those found manufacturing, supplying, storing, transporting, selling and distributing, and using the banned item.
However, enforcement of the rules has been far from satisfactory, say waste management experts and activists. Till May 31, 2019, the BBMP had collected over ₹16 lakh in fines, apart from seizing nearly 4,000 kg of banned plastic items.
Waste managements experts, however, say the amount collected should have been higher, given that at least 10% of the 4,000 tonnes of waste generated in the city every day comprises plastic items.
This time around, however, the BBMP will be levying a penalty even on plastic users. Senior BBMP officials told The Hindu that raids will be carried out across the city.
“We are targeting markets which have ignored earlier warnings. Initially, we will seize banned plastic material from users, retailers and vendors. A week later, we will begin levying penalties,” an official said and added that the recruitment of 233 marshals would be completed by the end of the month.
The BBMP has tied up with HDFC Bank, which will provide 500 hand-held machines for levying fines on the spot. These machines will be given to marshals, health inspectors, Assistant Executive Engineers and Medical Officers of Health (MOH) in all the zones. The official also said that the MOH at the divisional level had been authorised to procure paper bags and cloth bags.
“These will be distributed to street vendors through councillors. The civic body’s health department is working out the cost of the same, along with hiring of autorickshaws with loudspeakers to go round markets with a request to vendors and customers to switch to eco-friendly and reusable bags,” the official added.
Odette Katrak, co-founder of Beautiful Bengaluru, an organisation working actively to reduce litter and towards eradication of banned items, welcomed the BBMP’s decision to prioritise enforcement. She said even users had begun getting complacent. But, for changing their habits, the availability of alternatives is important.
“We did it in Green Glen Layout at Bellandur. In about a month, we got 25 vendors to shift to paper and cloth alternatives. Many residents, who didn’t want to pay extra for the bags, have now begun to carry their own bags,” she said.
She added that the BBMP must first stop sale/distribution of plastic at the wholesale level, which will stop the entry of banned items into the market.