The state government may have imposed a ban on thermocol items used for decoration in festivals, but goods made of thermocol, including the decorative ‘makhars’ used in household Ganesh idols, are easily available in markets across the city ahead of Ganesh Chaturthi.
In Dadar’s Chhabildas Lane, several shops and hawkers are selling the decorative items in all sizes. One hawker said they were selling the existing stock of the decorative items. “As these are banned, we are just selling the existing stock. We tell customers that there is an exemption on the ban for thermocol items this year,” said the vendor, adding that the civic body takes action but shopkeepers are continuing to sell the items.
One shopkeeper said he sold his stock of thermocol decorations to hawkers about two months back, once it became clear that the ban on single-use plastic and thermocol would not be rescinded. “As there was no relief from the state government, I sold my thermocol decorative items to hawkers on a no-profit, no-loss basis. I told the hawkers to sell these items at their own risk, and that I would have nothing to do with the stock once sold,” the shopkeeper added.
Several shopkeepers said that they had invested in the thermocol items before the ban was enforced. “We had taken loans and needed to recover the investments. So some shops are selling eco-friendly items but also have the old stock of thermocol goods. The attendants mention the thermocol items only if they feel the customer is very keen to buy them,” he said.
Arun Darekar of Akshay Decorators in Chhabildas Lane said he opted to stock eco-friendly items two months ago. “Due to the ban on thermocol, the cost of paper products has gone up. So it has led to an increase in the cost of eco-friendly makhars. From next year, we will make eco-friendly makhars in the price range of thermocol items,” said Darekar, who has been in the industry for the past three decades.
A Khairnar, assistant municipal commissioner of G North Ward, said regular action was being taken against violators. “We have been making seizures and imposing penal action on a daily basis against the violators,” said Khairnar. He claimed there were no repeat offenders.
However, the Thermocol Fabricators, Traders and Decoration Association said that many decoration artists themselves disposed of their stock with local civic bodies. “Many of us have handed over the thermocol stock to the local bodies for disposal as we had no other option,” said Kiran Unhavane of the association.