Seems like a blanket ban on plastic is not going to be a reality in Bangalore anytime soon. Last year the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) had directed more than 60 registered manufacturers to stop producing bags less than 40 microns thick, following a notification from the Ministry of Environment and Forests to implement the plastic waste management rules of 2011.
But, the implementing authority, the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), had no clue about the said notification. They had even failed to ensure safe collection, storage, segregation, transportation, processing and disposal of plastic waste, and setting up of collection centres for such waste which involve manufacturers.
However, the BBMP seems to have finally woken up from its deep slumber and has again set a deadline for segregation of garbage this time, which many corporators opine, will play a vital role in imposition of plastic ban too. The civic body had recently also seized 7.5 tonnes of garbage from various trading hubs in from different parts of Bangalore (East, West and South)
The state government also seems to be doing some damage control as the Muzrai Department has issued directives to various departments last week to ban plastic. The ban is being implemented under the Plastic Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 2011, a Central government rule, which bans plastic less than 40 microns thick.
The Food and Civil Supplies has been instructed by the Environment Department to go back to their previous practice of packaging grain in gunny bags instead of plastic sacks.
When asked about the success of the ban on plastic bags this time, BBMP Commissioner Rajneesh Goel said: “The Act currently does not demand ban on plastic bags above 40 microns. We have been raiding shops and commercial establishments where plastic bags only below 40 microns are being used, seizing the same and slapping a penalty. Palike officials have learnt that plastic covers less than 40 microns thick are coming from outside Karnataka and many suppliers are still supplying plastic bags below 40 microns. All that needs to stop.”
He further added that the BBMP have tied up with KK Plastic Waste Management Private Limited (as per the Central Road Research Institute recommendation) who are using plastic for road construction. “Another big alternative is using plastic for extracting bio-fuel. We have a lot of options available today,” he said.
He also feels that there is a need to educate the public through various campaigns. Shop owners complain that unless the customers carry their own bags, it will be difficult to implement the proposed ban.
Shivanna, who runs a provision store in Koramanagala, says: “This is not the first time that there has been so much talk about the plastic ban in the city. BBMP had called for a ban last year too, but plastic bags below 40 microns was being used indiscriminately across the city. I hope this time atleast the ban is implemented and I have already asked my customers to start carrying their own cloth bags.”
Environmentalists also feel that the ban should be imposed in a phased manner and so do the corporators.
Kodigehalli corporator Ashwath Narayan Gowda says: “We are going to shops and retail outlets in our wards asking the shop owners and managers to stop selling plastic bags below 40 microns, amid opposition. It is difficult for the BBMP alone to tackle this issue and more over, we don’t have the right to ban plastic altogether. Such a directive should come from the government itself and it needs the cabinet approval. We can start with a small step though and hence we are visiting shops, conducting awareness programmes in a phased manner.” Like him, many other corporators feel that segregation of garbage at source can solve only half the problem, as it becomes easy to use that plastic for other purposes.
If the drive to promote segregation of garbage is successful this time, Bangalore citizens can breathe a sigh of relief unlike last year’s failed attempt, feel the Palike officials.