ROURKELA: After having nearly vanished from the cityscape over the past two decades, cloth and paper bags with improved quality are ready to make a comeback in the steel city. The ban on harmful single use plastic products, imposed by Rourkela Municipal Corporation (RMC) from Tuesday, has given a hope for revival of these cottage industry products.
‘Thunga’ or paper bags made from old newspapers was once a source of livelihood for several poor families residing in the city’s slums. But, they lost out to the massive onslaught of cheap and easy-to-use polythene carry bags. Yet, things are changing for the better.
Sources said several poor slum women owing allegiance to different Self-Help Groups (SHGs) have resorted to paper and cloth bag-making at Madhusudanpali, Timber Colony, STI, Nayabazar, Plant Site and Deogaon areas. Incidentally, acting on the State Government’s directives, RMC and Rourkela Smart City Ltd (RSCL) have embarked on multi-pronged strategies to fight the plastic menace, ensure livelihood options and arrange alternative compostable products.
RMC Commissioner and RSCL Chief Executive Officer Rashmita Panda said month-long awareness programmes engaging 10 types of stake-holders, including members of SHGs, market committees, business organisations, students, civil societies’ volunteers and NGO activists created a perception against plastic.
She said as the ban alone would not help, RMC organised training programmes for 184 members of SHGs in paper and cloth bag making. Panda said their products would be put on sale at Pallishree Mela starting from Wednesday and after Durga Puja, 200 more SHG members would be trained.
She said revival of these products is a good indication, adding that RMC understands the need to create producers’ groups, marketing link and low-investment technologies for bulk needs.A retail vendor T Sahu, welcoming the plastic ban, hoped locally made bio-degradable bags would add to the local economy and help curb import from Chhattisgarh.