But the recent transfer of a deputy municipal commissioner has brought the process to a screeching halt. That the movement is now in limbo is made clear by the fact that civic officials haven’t conducted a single raid on shopkeepers in the last two months, to check if they are charging customers for plastic bags, as per the notice issued to them.
Suresh Patil, deputy municipal commissioner of the Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC), who headed the drive against plastic bags efficiently, was transferred to another department in April earlier this year. Since then, no action has been taken by civic authorities to curb the plastic menace.
“I don’t have any information of any action taken against plastic manufacturers and shopkeepers who are not following the rules, as I have just joined this department. Our ward officers have been instructed and they may be taking appropriate action against shopkeepers,” said R K Mathapati, deputy municipal commissioner, NMMC.
Six months ago, the Union Ministry for Environment and Forests (MoEF) ordered state governments not to allow shopkeepers to give away plastic bags free of cost, and asked them to institute a charge for each bag provided by them. The intention was to create an incentive to reduce pollution, and the fee was meant to implicitly wean people off plastic bags.
Accordingly, in mid-March, NMMC issued a notice to all shopkeepers, asking them to start charging consumers for plastic carry bags as per the prescribed rates. Also, it warned the shopkeepers of strict action if they failed to do so.NMMC even devised a rate card for various sizes of plastic carry bags to be charged to customers.
The corporation was expected to ensure an implementation of the rule. However, NMMC has neither raided any shop in Navi Mumbai to ensure that the rule is being followed, nor taken any action against shopkeepers who are reported to be violating them. When contacted, Bhaskar Wankhede, municipal commissioner of NMMC, said, “I will look into the matter and ensure the drive against plastic proliferation is carried on unabated.”