Mumbai: Santacruz residents wage war on plastic bags

The residents of Kalina, Vakola and the neighbouring localities – among the worst hit during the July 2005 deluge, as plastic bags clogged drains and led to massive flooding – have decided to implement a ban on plastic bags in Santacruz east. Starting December 27, they will kick off a campaign advocating the ban, and will go door-to-door asking residents to pledge their support.

The campaign is being steered by residents, associations and ALMs, who have formed a residents’ body – Friends of Nature – for the cause. The group has already begun getting pamphlets, stickers and banners ready.

“Our main focus is to ask people to ‘learn to say no to plastic bags’. We are involving residents, shopkeepers, hawkers and the BMC to ensure the campaign is sustainable and successful,” said Kalina resident Dr Atul Pednekar, a member of the group.

They have identified 25 pockets and will try to approach every house in these areas.

“Members will also stand at markets and approach shoppers to use cloth or paper bags. We are also encouraging shopkeepers and hawkers to sign a pledge not to give plastic bags to customers,” added Pednekar.

As an incentive, buildings banning plastic will be awarded certificates and special stickers. There are also plans to ask residents to give preference to shops that have vowed to be plastic bag-free.

“If anyone can stop the plastic bag nuisance, it’s the residents. If they start using alternatives, why would any shopkeeper or hawker keep plastic bags?” said Douglas Lobo of Ekta ALM and a member of Friends of Nature.

Lekha Nanjapa of Vakola Residents Forum added, “We do not want to limit this movement to shouting on the streets for a few days. We want to ensure people give up the habit for good.”

Jitendra Gupta, a hawker from Kalina, said, “If I refuse a customer a plastic bag, he will stop buying vegetables from me. If customers stop asking us for plastic bags, we will stop giving them. We do not mind wrapping things in paper for them.”

Nainish Cyclewala, assistant municipal commissioner, H-East ward, said of the campaign, “We are ready to provide all our support and help for the campaign. We strongly believe that if residents are determined, we can and will make Santacruz plastic bag-free.”

From Mumbai Mirror

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