Almost a year after the Maharashtra government implemented its ban on single-use plastic and thermocol items, it seems to not have had the desired effect on the ground, as revealed by the amount of plastic confiscated by municipal corporations in the last few months.
While the state government introduced the ban in March last year, it started implementing the ban strictly only around June, once alternative products that could replace plastic were available in the market.
In the last 10 months, the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) and the Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) have confiscated 56,151.6 kg of plastic items. The two civic bodies also jointly collected a fine amount of Rs 41,79,440, revealed replies to Right To Information (RTI) queries filed by The Indian Express, seeking details on the use of banned plastic in Pune.
All of the plastic items collected were sent to collection centres for recycling, stated the RTI reply.
Even though the use and circulation of plastics has reduced substantially, more efforts are needed in this direction as local hawkers and vegetable vendors continue to pack their items in plastic bags.
As per the Maharashtra Plastic and Thermocol Products Notification (2018), the manufacture, usage, sale, transport, distribution, wholesale or retail sale, and storage or import of single-use plastics below 50 microns has been banned. These include products like disposable plastic dishes, bowls, cups, plates, glasses, fork, spoons, containers, straw, non-woven polypropene bags and pouches.
Right intention, ineffective implementation
The state government's ban on one-time plastic items was a welcome move, but several government agencies — the municipal corporations, the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board and district administration — have failed to ensure 100 per cent implementation. Promises of setting up plastic collection centres and pay-back schemes for used plastic also remain on paper and local residents often have no alternate product for usage. The government machinery, meanwhile, is grappling to stop the illegal manufacture, rampant sale and use of plastic bags below 50 microns, which are once again cropping up in the markets of Pune.
The RTI reply stated that while 418 kg of thermocol was collected within PCMC limits, no thermocol-based items were confiscated from PMC areas in the last 10 months.
The areas in PMC that saw the highest amount of confiscation of banned plastic were Hadapsar, Mundhwa, Yerwada, Dhanorie, Wanwadi, Ramtekdi, Warje, Karve nagar, Aundh, Baner and Shivajinagar. Old city areas such as Bhavani Peth, Kasba Peth, along with Sinhgad Road and Dhope Patil Road, saw minimal usage of plastic.
Monitoring the use of banned items in the newly-developed areas within PMC limits was proving to be a major challenge, said experts.
In PCMC jurisdiction, areas along the Pimpri-Chinchwad Link Road, Nigdi, Pradhikaran and Thergaon saw the maximum use of plastics, while minimal use was seen in Bhosari, the newly-developed areas of Pimple Saudagar, Pimple Gurav and Wakad, stated the RTI response. In fact, local administrators in Pimple Saudagar had replaced plastics with cloth and paper bags at the beginning of 2018, even before the state government issued its orders on the ban.
Unlike PMC, the fringe areas within the twin town of Pimpri-Chinchwad performed well and were found to adhere more to the state government’s call against single-use plastics.
In Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad
Over 56,000 kg Plastic confiscated by PMC, PCMC in 10 months
Rs 41,79,440 fine amount collected by Civic bodies
* Areas that complied better with plastic ban: Old city areas such as Bhavani Peth, Kasba Peth, along with Sinhgad Road and Dhope Patil Road (PMC)
* Bhosari, the newly-developed Pimple Saudagar, Pimple Gurav and Wakad (PCMC)
* Areas with lower compliance of ban: Hadapsar, Mundhwa, Yerwada, Dhanorie, Wanwadi, Ramtekdi, Warje, Karve Nagar, Aundh, Baner and Shivajinagar (PMC)
* Pimpri-Chinchwad Link Road, Nigdi, Pradhikaran and Thergaon (PCMC)