Updated: March 3, 2020 2:16:53 am
Reviving its drive against single-use plastic in the city on Sunday, the BMC seized 1,028 kg of the banned material and collected Rs 3.75 lakh as penalty amount from 4,081 hawkers, restaurants, shops and other establishments. The action came after state Environment Minister Aaditya Thackeray reiterated his pledge to make Maharashtra free of single-use plastic by May 1. The civic body, in a first, seized banned plastic from customers as well. But they were not penalised.
Over the weekend, BMC officials visited major markets and high footfall zones such as areas around railway stations and hawking areas like Dadar, to raise awareness and conduct inspections. On the second day, officials seized 14.5 kg polythene bags from 315 street vendors and 450 flower shops around Dadar station and 76 shops inside Dadar flower market, recovering a penalty amount of Rs 45,000.
“Inspectors got responsibilities to make the area plastic free. The aim is to raise awareness among citizens and not just collect fines,” said an official from the shops and establishments department.
The government had banned the use of disposable plastic, including plastic bags, cups, spoons, plates and tiffin containers, among others, in March 2018. It gave three months to users, retailers and manufacturers to get rid of such items, after which a ban came into effect on June 23. An inspector said, “We are asking shop owners and hawkers to not keep plastic bags, not to buy them from the market at all. We are asking citizens to carry their own bags and containers if they are buying meat or fish.”
The ban, which imposes a fine between Rs 5,000 and Rs 25,000, was the brainchild of Aaditya. However, after about a year, the drive lost momentum and single-use plastic has been freely available in the market.
“The implementation of the plastic ban is our top priority. We have been asked to put all ward-level inspectors from shops and establishments, markets and licence departments to raise awareness, to inspect and confiscate banned plastics,” said Kiran Dighavkar, assistant municipal commissioner, G North ward.
To raise awareness, the BMC has also planned to hold competitions on the theme of plastic ban, encouraging students to deposit banned plastic items in schools and take a pledge to give up single-use plastic. Further, the civic body has also planned to appoint a nodal officer to implement the plastic ban and put into service a toll-free number for complaints against storage, use and transportation of banned items.
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