Plastic Continues To Choke City Despite Ban

Bhubaneswar: The dream of a plastic-free city has crashed once again with the failure of the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) in implementing the ban on the use of plastic.

The ban on single use plastic came into force in October last year. The civic body officials remained active in enforcing the ban only for a short time.

Banned plastic carry bags, tea cups, thermocol are being sold brazenly in tea stalls, grocery shops, small hotels, betel shops, fast food outlets, vegetable markets etc.

 “Paper bags are not sturdy and I can’t afford to buy cloth bags and give them free to my customers. My customers also don’t like to pay for the bags,” said Jiten Jena, a grocery shop owner in Bomikhal.

Jena and others like him are unhesitatingly using plastic. “They said plastic is banned but where it is coming from now. Instead of coming to us, the civic officials should keep a check at the manufacturing level,” said Ramchandra Sahu, a vegetable seller on Maharshi Road.

Soon after the civic body started the enforcement drive, paper and cloth bags replaced plastic ones in the city markets.

“I was very optimistic about the ban this time as I had never witnessed such a change but I am disappointed once again. The civic body should have continued its drive on an active mode,” said Shanti Swarup Patnaik, a shopper.

The civic body has also failed to execute its plan of installing reverse vending machines in major markets. It had floated a tender for the installation of these machines in September last year. People would have been able to dump used plastic bottles and avail reward points in return, which they could have used at different shopping centres.

“It was indeed a good plan but it is sad the civic body failed to execute it. Such initiatives encourage people to abstain from using plastic but now it has been nullified. The civic body should have stuck to its plans,” said Pritam Acharya, a resident of Rasulgarh.

In the following month, the civic body had also mooted a plan to set up a plastic shredding unit at the temporary transit station near Sainik School where segregated plastic was to be shredded to be used in road construction.

This project too, did not see the light of the day. “We couldn’t find enough technical guidance to set up the plant. We have not dropped the plan. We will refloat the tender for the project soon,” said a senior civic body official.

BMC Deputy Commissioner Srimana Mishra, said that regular enforcement is on and action is being taken against the violators. “Major markets are now free of plastic. Many hotels and fast food chains are also not using plastic,” said Mishra.

He however, admitted that smaller shops are using plastic. “It is a step-wise process. In the first attempt we made the markets free of plastic and in the next one, we will shift focus on smaller set ups,” said the deputy commissioner.

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