KOCHI: The ban on plastic carry bags imposed by the state government before the pandemic broke out has failed to yield the desired results. Though shopping complexes and supermarkets in the state started complying with the ban after the district administration and local bodies intensified enforcement activities, retailers, wayside vendors and even hotel owners seem to not care anymore.Unfortunately, the shop owners started using the banned plastic bags of below 50 microns again after the agencies concerned shifted their focus to the Covid containment measures.
“If the health and police officials used to conduct frequent raids on the markets and shops earlier, they have completely shifted their focus now. If they are not bothered about the rules, why should we worry about it? For shopkeepers like us, customers are important. If we force the customers to come with cloth bags, they will buy things from other shops. We don’t want to put ourselves in trouble by complying with the ban strictly,” said a vegetable vendor at the Kaloor market requesting anonymity.
The slackness showed by the district administration and local bodies have encouraged the public also to rely on the banned plastic bags. “The frequent raids conducted in the initial days of the ban forced us to carry cloth bags while going to the market. It was difficult to get plastic carry bags from the shops as they too were afraid of being caught. Now things are back to the earlier days as no one is worried and afraid,” said Nidhin, a resident of Kakkanad.
The wholesale dealers of plastic carry bags are using this as an opportunity to peddle the banned product among shopkeepers. “Despite the government imposing a blanket ban on plastic carry bags, nearly 150 tonnes of plastic waste is being generated daily in the city alone. Still, the wholesale dealers are supplying the banned product in the city. It is evident that the corporation has taken a lackadaisical attitude to enforcing the government order. If the corporation had conducted frequent raids, the city could have reined in the use of banned plastic carry bags,” said C K Peter, opposition councillor.