Plastic bags are delaying nullah desilting process

May 06, 2013, 06:43 IST | Maithili Vaze

Despite the ban on use of plastic bags below 50 microns that was imposed three years ago, tonnes of dumped plastic refuse has been clogging the nullahs

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation has finally woken up to the task of desilting the nullahs in the city. The work was started last week. However, despite the ban on plastic bags below 50 microns, the civic body is finding a lot of it clogging the nullahs, as a result of which their already-delayed project is slowing down further.

Scores of plastic bags that end up in nullahs are one of the main reasons for waterlogging and drain-clogging during the monsoon. File pic

A ban against use of plastic bags under 50 microns is in place since three years ago. Despite surprise checks by a special squad and levying a hefty fine, use of these bags is still rampant in the city.

Civic steps
To drive the point home, BMC put a stop on the use of all kinds of plastic bags not just those under 50 microns in its own offices, municipal markets and hospitals two years ago. But, the civic body has not taken serious measures to extend this rule to the rest of the city. Last year, around three to four lorries were filled with plastic taken out of the nullahs. Each lorry carried five to six tonnes of plastic.

When asked about the issue, Laxman Vhatkar, chief engineer, storm water drain (SWD) department said, “During heavy rains, we start a pump due to which the floating material gets accumulated at one place that makes it easy for us to remove the material.”

NGO speaks
To do away with the plastic menace, many NGOs have come forward with the idea of doing away with all plastic bags. Sanskar India Foundation (SIF) and GreenAdd undertook a ‘Ban Plastic’ campaign, which took place recently.

Recognising plastic usage as one of the largest threats to the environment today, SIF volunteers encouraged commuters to use cloth bags. People were given simple solutions to easily avoid plastic. The NGO also spread awareness regarding hazards of plastic.

“It is the responsibility of citizens to stop using plastic. Penalising poor sellers will not help in anyway if the citizens are not aware,” said Chaitanya Khanapure, director of GreenAdd. “I also support the banning of plastic bags. BMC allows the use of plastic that is over 20-25 microns. Thin bags become useless after some time. Citizens should stop using plastic bags and start using cloth bags,” added Khanapure.  

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