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Posted at: Aug 13, 2018, 2:42 AM; last updated: Aug 13, 2018, 2:42 AM (IST)

Banning plastic bags no solution to perennial problem, say residents

Banning plastic bags no solution to perennial problem, say residents
Polythene bags at a shop in Jalandhar. Tribune Photo

Avneet Kaur

Jalandhar, August 12

Although plastic bags less than 50 microns are banned in 20 states, including Punjab, they can be easily purchased, used, and dumped carelessly without fear of law, punishment and fine.

Be it grocery stores, cosmetic stores, vegetable vendors, cloth merchants, eateries or restaurants, polythene has choked lives everywhere and residents and shopkeepers are not willing to abide by the rules.

A few days back, plastic had been completely banned in the city. Despite stringent rules and regulations on manufacturing as well as stocking of polythene, there seems to be no monitoring.

“Plastic-free Jalandhar requires a much more radical approach than a ban. Even customers don’t object to the use of polythene bags and have a careless attitude without thinking about its ramifications in the long run”, said Kavita Rai, a teacher.

“Customers don’t bring their own bags and ask us for polythene bags. If we stop providing them polythene, our business suffers,” a fruit seller said.

Munish Kumar, a city resident said heaps of garbage in the city had highlighted the ugly truth as anybody could see a huge number of non-biodegradable plastic bags in the waste dumps. “Common people are forced to use these bags as shopkeepers charge an extra amount of Rs 5 or 10 on providing jute bags or other eco-friendly bags due to which people usually avoid using these bags and prefer polythene over it,” he added.

He further said, “It’s clear that unless the established rules and regulations are enforced in true spirit and viable alternatives to plastic are found, the ban will not yield any concrete results.”

Although many shops in the city have switched to use of bags made of cloth or jute, it still seems to be a difficult task for small shop owners or vendors to abide by the law. Krishna Chopra, a shopkeeper at Mai Hiran Gate, said, “It is easy for retailers and big brands to use jute bags because they take heavy amounts from purchasers. It is very difficult for small shopkeepers to use jute bags if the customer is buying an item of only Rs 20-30.”

“If proper alternatives are proposed or residents bring their own bags, it would be easier for small shopkeepers, fruit sellers and vendors to follow the rules. Therefore, instead of banning or challaning small vendors, authorities should sensitise residents and ask them to carry their bags for shopping and stop asking for polythene bags,” he added.


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