BENGALURU: Four months after the state-wide plastic ban came into force, vendors in KR Market who depended on selling these goods for a living are switching trades.
Harish, a plastic trader for seven years, says sales have dropped by nearly 75 per cent. “Who will give our workers food?” he asks.
“Cloth bags are three times as costly. Who will buy them,” adds Shankar, who runs Raja Ram Plastic on Old Tharagupet Cross. He is contemplating opening a sweetmeat shop instead.
Selaram, who works at Sangeeta Poly Pack has, switched over to selling toffees. “I need to earn my daily bread,” he tells City Express.
The plastic traders are also wary of inspectors who seize hoarded goods.
“The police come at 10 am. So some of us come late just to escape them,” says Narish, an anxious plastic vendor. “What alternatives has the government provided us with?”
Most plastic traders in the area hail from Rajasthan. A few are planning to find work elsewhere — in Gujarat or Mumbai.
Traders of packaging materials are also among those hard hit.
“Even if we sell paper items, don’t we have to pack them in plastic? The bigger companies are allowed to pack chips and other edibles in plastic covers. But we are being targeted,” says Khushal.
This shopkeeper, who runs Jain Plastic Stores, has started selling incense sticks to compensate his losses.
Government officials are also cracking down on those selling paper cups and plates, as they are lined with either plastic or wax.
“In that case, most items in the Indian market will have to be banned since they contain some element of plastic,” says Harish, who hails from Jaisalmer and runs Ram Poly Bag.
He says he had closed his shop for nearly 15 days, fearing inspectors.
Many vendors told City Express that in this process of making Bengaluru a green city, some helpless traders might engage in anti-social acts thieving for sustenance.
Moti Singh of MS Trading Company says, “Small-time traders like us are suffering on the streets, and the government is only bothered about the big multinationals.”
Mod Singh, another vendor, adds that starting a new trade is not feasible for most. “We will have to start with learning the basics. How will we pay rent till then?” he demands.
Kumaravel, Senior Health Inspector, Chickpet, says it is the responsibility of every citizen to make the ban a reality.
“If nobody buys plastic, the ban will automatically work,” he reasons. He says officials have collected up to `25,000 a day as fines from the those found selling plastic.
“We also feel the prick of conscience when we fine the poor vendors. But we have to follow the law as well,” he says.
The Health Inspector says the seized goods are handed over to a government agency, which sells them to obtain revenue for the government treasury.