Those who will be found using these bags to carry groceries or vegetables from the market would be asked to pay fine anywhere between Rs 500 or Rs 5,000 depending on the gravity of the offence.
Sanitary inspectors from PMC’s SWM department have been tasked with the responsibility to collect fines. “Earlier, manufacturers of these thin bags were punished with fines. Similarly, shopkeepers were also penalised for violating the rules. Now, we will not spare those who use these bags to purchase goods from shops or veggie vendors,” said Suresh Jagtap, assistant municipal commissioner, SWM, PMC. “These bags harm the environment and choke gutters during the monsoons,” added Jagtap.
Implementation of the Plastic Waste (Management and Handling) Rules was notified by the Ministry of Environment and Forest on February 4, 2012. Now, the civic body is enforcing it on a broader perspective in the city. The PMC at its general body meeting had also passed a resolution to ban plastic bags below 50 micron on December 23, 2010. Subsequently, following the ban, the civic body’s SWM department confiscated 350 kgs of polythene bags.
“We are intensifying the drive against the use of polythene bags in the city, as the menace is increasing rapidly. Those caught will have to pay a fine ranging from Rs 500 to 5,000 depending upon the gravity of the offence,” Jagtap said.
The move comes after the issue was raised by Satish Khot, president, National Society for Clean Cities (NSCC) during a meeting with SWM officials. He said, “These bags are making the city dirtier. Unfortunately, there is no control over the use of these bags and strong action needs to be taken. These bags can’t be easily recycled. We need to introduce a new technology to destroy them.”
Welcoming the initiative, Aundh resident Vinay Patwardhan said, “Polythene bag users always escape the law, despite he or she using these begs regularly. Those responsible for spreading harmful garbage all over the city must not be spared by the PMC.”
Kishor Jedhe, sanitary inspector with SWM, said, “We collected a sizable amount in fines from shopkeepers in the last month. As per the available statistics, we have compounded Rs 1.26 lakh fine from 10 PMC wards in February 2013.”
Meanwhile, advocating the use of eco-friendly carry bags, Manisha Ghate, BJP Corporator, said, “As a substitution to the plastic bags, we have already started distributing jute and cotton bags to housewives in my ward. The bags also display a message to stop using polythene bags.”