New Delhi: Taking note of the 45th World Environment Day’s theme ‘beat plastic pollution’ and the burgeoning plastic menace, numerous states have initiated plastic ban. Tamil Nadu announced banning use of plastic items by January 2019, Haryana declared a ban on single-use plastic water bottles in all government offices. Joining the bandwagon, Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) has decided to make two of its markets, as plastic free zones. Confirming the news, GMC Commissioner, Monalisa Goswami said that initially Uzan Bazar and Kachari Ghat markets are bring targeted and few months down the line, rest of the markets will also be covered.
The campaign to make the city’s markets plastic-free zones started on June 1. To give the campaign a fillip, on June 5, which is observed as World Environment Day, GMC distributed cloth bags made by self-help groups to vendors and shopkeepers. While some bags were distributed for free, others were purchased by vendors and citizens. A total of 400-500 bags were distributed.
Talking about the steps being taken to make city’s markets plastic-free zones, GMC Commissioner, Monalisa Goswami said,
We are doing two things- first, we are encouraging people to bring their own bags – be it paper bag, cloth bag or any other bag, but plastic, second, we have roped in self-help groups (SHGs) to make paper and plastic bags which are biodegradable. This way, SHGs can earn too.
The smell of fish is a familiarity in the streets and lanes of Guwahati. Similar to any other goods, purchase of fish in Guwahati is accompanied by a plastic bag. But to avoid this, SHGs have produced a variety of bags, keeping in mind individual needs. While a shopping bag made using markin cloth (cotton cloth used for making bags) ranges from Rs. 5 to Rs. 14, paper bags ranges from Rs. 1.5 to Rs. 5 and grocery bag made using natural fiber mix costs Rs. 8. Pouch or envelope for packing of grocery, medicines, spices and so on cost Rs. 0.25 to Rs. 1, depending on the size.
Talking about why only two markets are being targeted,
The idea is to stop usage of single-use plastic bags. It is not feasible to bring in a change overnight. We are first targeting marketplaces, reason being, if shopkeepers will not provide plastic bags then willingly or unwillingly customers will have to bring in their own bag. Uzan Bazar and Kachari Ghat markets are near to our office. We have seen the excessive use of plastic bags around our office. The idea is to remove plastics from around us and then move further.
The GMC further plans to implement a fine on the usage of plastic bags by vendors. Though the amount of fine has yet not been finalised, the commissioner said that neither the amount of fine will be too high to burn a hole in someone’s pocket nor will it be too low that it is taken for granted.