Mumbai: It has been a month since Gujarat’s largest city Ahmedabad imposed a ban on plastic, committing itself to United Nations’ goal of beating plastic pollution. On World Environment Day (June 5) this year, the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation waged a battle against water pouches, plastic tea cups, single-use plastic carry bags and paan masala packets. In the last one month the AMC conducted multiple inspections and managed to seize nearly 10,000 kilos of banned plastic items. The seized plastic will be sent to the local recycling units. A sum total of Rs 90 lakhs has been collected as penalty and a total of 164 selling and manufacturing units found with the banned items have been sealed.
Last month, a blanket ban was imposed on usage of plastic water pouches, paan masalas, plastic cups/glasses and polythene bags. In last one month, we had kept a strict vigilance on retailers, manufacturers and consumers by conducting raids every day since the enforcement of the ban, Dr Bhavin Solanki, chief medical officer, AMC tells NDTV.
Along with the awareness drives, the AMC had also launched a toll-free number (155303) on which people could place their request to collect banned plastic items from their houses. Hundreds of people in the city availed the service and deposited banned plastic items in bulk, says Dr Solanki.
To ensure that the ban is followed by all sides, the corporation had conducted a massive awareness drive in the city asking the retailers to refuse giving plastic bags and the consumers to refrain from using plastic bags. Most of the vegetable markets in the city have switched to either paper bags or cloth bags.
A significant difference can be seen. The usage of the banned items has considerably come down in last one month as witnessed during the inspections. Most of the tea stalls use paper cups to serve tea and people have started to carry their own bags for shopping, he adds.
The one-month old ban is also preventing the city’s drains from getting choked says Dr Solanki, “Generally, the plastic bags and cups would accumulate near the drains and cause flooding. Though the problem hasn’t been solved completely but it has decreased this year.”
In a bid to make the citizens comfortable with a plastic free lifestyle, the civic body recently declared city’s most popular tourist spot, Kankaria lake, a plastic free zone. In other words, it means that no one can enter the lake premises with any plastic item (whether banned or not). The guards have been instructed to seize all kinds of plastic items including water pouches, plastic cutlery, plastic bags etc during the security check. A plastic bottle vending machine has also been installed in the lake premises where citizens can drop in their plastic bottles and in return receive money vouchers.
Although the plastic bottles are exempted from the ambit of the plastic ban, the corporation has installed six plastic vending machines across the city, including the one at Kankaria lake with an aim to reduce the burden of plastic bottles. Any user can submit an empty plastic bottle inside the machine and in return receive a voucher of Rs 5. To avoid misuse of this vending machine, it has been designed in such a way that it will not accept items other than plastic bottles. The AMC will soon install another six machines at multiple locations to collect plastic bottles.