Varanasi: Drive to check use of plastic bags

VARANASI: Finally waking up to the task of restricting the free use of plastic carry bags, the authorities of Varanasi Nagar Nigam launched a special drive in the city. In the past three days, VNN conducted drives in different localities and imposed penalties on over 12 plastic bag users, mostly shopkeepers.

“This special drive will continue at least for a week to discourage the usage of restricted plastic products,” said municipal health officer VB Singh when contacted on Wednesday. The drive is being conducted zone wise.

Would merely a week-long drive be sufficient to stop the use of plastic bags? Obviously not, particularly when plastic products have become a part of the daily life despite the fact that they pose a threat to environment due to their non-biodegradable nature. “But, our exercise will put some check on the practice besides creating public awareness,” claimed the health officer.

“It is essential to take some harsh steps to discourage plastic use,” he pointed out and added “shopkeepers supplying goods in the restricted plastic bags are being fined and so far an amount of over Rs 1,000 has been collected from them as fine.” He, however, felt there was a need for wider public awareness to get the desired result. People should come forward and discourage the use of plastic bags and use other options like paper and cotton bags while shopping, he said.

According to the officials of regional unit of UP Pollution Control Board (UPPCB), there is a ban on the manufacturing of plastic bags below 20 microns in thickness. The use of such plastic bags is restricted under the Recycled Plastics Manufacture and Usage (Amendment) Rules, 2003. The rules say no person can manufacture, stock, distribute or sell carry bags made of virgin or recycled plastic bags, which are less than 8 x 12 inches in size. No vendor can use carry bags made of recycled plastic for storing, carrying, dispensing or packaging of foodstuff.

Though locally there is no record of the plastic waste in the city, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) estimates that approximately 4-5 per cent post-consumer plastic waste by weight of Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) is generated in the country. However, according to the City Development Plan (CDP) of Varanasi prepared under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM), the city generates about 600 MT municipal solid waste every day.

From TOI

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