Plastic bag use takes a big plunge

Mumbai The civic body has recorded a drop in the number of plastic bags, less than 50 microns thick, seized in the past six months. “There is an over 70 per cent drop in the cases of plastic bags seized by the 27 squads of the BMC. Since January the number of cases has come down drastically,” said deputy municipal commissioner R B Bhosale. In January 2,873 cases were recorded. The number dipped to 940 in May and reached 624 in June. This year the civic body has penalised 7,979 for using plastic bags thinner than 50 microns. The BMC has collected over Rs 32 lakh as fine. In June Rs 2.82 lakh was collected, Bhosale said.

“The drop seems to have taken place as there is more awareness and alertness among shopkeepers and hawkers,” said Bhosale. Stringent action against offenders is also a reason for the drop, he added.

The BMC has one squad in each ward and three other special squads across the city for penalising those who use plastic bags below 50 microns. In January leaders of all parties in the BMC had decided to make a formal proposal to the state government for a complete ban on plastic bags in Mumbai.

“We had written to the state government regarding 100 per cent ban on plastic bags but the proposal is still pending,” said Shiv Sena leader in the BMC Sunil Prabhu. Plastic bags thinner than 50 microns were banned after the July 26, 2005, deluge as they were considered one of the main reasons for choking drains.

Sharvari Patwa – Express India

Mumbai women push for change, one bag at a time

MUMBAI: If you thought environmentalism was for those who have too much time on their hands, here’s proof of what “desperate housewives” can accomplish. Last year in June, six young working mothers banded together to implement at home the essence of a sustainable lifestyle — reduce, reuse and recycle. Soon enough, the group grew into RUR, an organization that is now shaping up a public conscience.

“We practise zero-waste management at home. So from using CFL and LED lights to cleaning glasses with lemon peels to reusing kitchen water for composting etc, we live by sustainable measures. And wish that more people start green living at their homes and offices,” says Monisha Narke of RUR. “With the government push to ban the use of plastic bags, the time is opportune to make available economical, eco-friendly alternatives. Cotton bags seem to be the best solution in our times as they are earth-friendly, biodegradable and re-usable many times over. Through workshops, practical demonstrations, campaigns, we spread the green message of shifting the focus from disposable to reusable,” she explains.

The group started with Sahakari Bhandar (a cooperative departmental chain of stores), now taken over by a private body. “We ideated with them on how they can encourage consumers to use cloth bags instead of plastic ones,” says Sejal Kshirsagar. “This year, too, we will be repeating the awareness drive at some of the SB outlets in the city.”

Earlier this year, the group in association with another environment body, Vishwa, made a human chain in three markets to popularize the concept of cloth bags. “Since plastic bags are rampantly used in markets, we spoke to vendors in some of the markets and encouraged them to stock cloth bags. They can also rent these bags as well for a week at a time. With corporate support, we can include many markets in this project and give the bags at a subsidized price. These bags are made of untreated cotton fabric which we buy from the market. Some donate old dupattas and bed sheets for fridge bags. These are sold at subsidized prices or given free to vendors,” says Kshirsagar.

Being true to the three R’s, they have also associated with another NGO called Force which collects reusable dry articles and recycles them. So, be it plastic, paper, metal, you name it, they will collect anything that is reusable. What next? “We are planning kiosks at prominent places to collect tetrapacks. These will be given to a company in Ahmedabad, Daman Ganga, that recycles them to produce consumer products,” says Kshirsagar.

From TOI

Soft drinks giant loses battle against Municipal Corporation

The octroi vigilance wing of the Thane Municipal Corporation (TMC) has won the first legal bout against M/S Pepsico Company, the multinational soft drinks giant. The firm lost the writ petition it filed against the corporation before the Bombay High Court and with it the path is clear for the TMC to seize movable and immovable properties of the soft drinks giant.

The soft drink firm got a rude legal shock on Wednesday evening when the high court rejected the requests of the MNC to stay the civic move to seize its Mumbai and New Delhi based properties. The court had earlier admitted the petition and issued notices to the corporation. Hearing in the petition was to be held on May 6 but was adjourned to May 12, after the case could not come up for hearing on May 6.

The legal counsel for the corporation informed the court on May 12 that the soft drinks giant had been served demand notices in October last year for payment of Rs 2.07 crore by way of due octroi amount of Rs 18.85 lakh coupled with ten times penalty by its distributor M/s Sana Agency. The MNC however did not respond to the notice even though the hearing in the notice was to be held before civic commissioner Nandkumar Jantre.

The civic department then followed up on the notice by slapping notice of seizure of properties of the MNC. The notice was issued on the Chembur office of the company on February 17 this year. Pepsico however did not respond to the notice of seizure as well and only raised questions over the legality of the notice.

The civic counsel also told the court that the TMC had begun taking action of seizure on the properties of the MNC as the next step to the seizure notice. The civic authorities seized four trucks loaded of the company loaded with soft drinks on May 10 and 11 as they entered the limits of the TMC en route to their destination elsewhere. The value of the seized items is estimated at around Rs 11 lakh. The civic counsel claimed that in such a situation the request for stay on seizure notice was meaningless.

The court upheld the argument of the corporation and rejected the requests of the petitioner to grant a stay on the process of the property seizure notice. “The petitioner has been directed to follow the due process of law with the municipal commissioner in the matter”, Arvind Akashi, the Assistant Municipal Commissioner (AMC) in charge of the octroi vigilance wing told Thane Plus. He added that the corporation would now seek details of transaction of the petitioner with Sana Agency for the last five to six years.

With the rejection of the petition the path of the TMC to take further steps of property seizure of the company is clear. The civic department has even issued guidelines to its staff posted at octroi nakas to seize vehicles laden with soft drinks coming from the company even if the vehicles are simply crossing the civic jurisdiction to reach their destination elsewhere.

In the wake of the civic action and its reversal in the high court the MNC is likely to move the Supreme Court (SC) against the HC order. The TMC is bracing up for the legal battle in the SC as well.

The dispute pertains to alleged evasion of octroi of Rs 18.85 lakh by the agency on import of goods worth Rs 4 crore from the giant in the previous year. The agency allegedly used forged TMC octroi payment receipts and got the amount reimbursed from the MNC. Ten such receipts were seized by the TMC. Firoz Shaikh, the owner of the agency is in jail since August last year on charges of cheating and forgery.

The civic administration subsequently alleged that ten officials of Pepsico were also involved in the crime but the Daighar police did not proceed against them. The TMC moved the high court with a criminal writ petition against the city police and the court directed the cops to record supplementary statements of Akashi, the complainant.

The police have recorded the supplementary statement of the complainant against ten officials of the MNC but no arrests have been made. A source in the Daighar police station told Thane Plus that no further action could be taken in the case as the charge sheet is already filed against Sana Agency and trial is going on.

From TOI

Mumbai has a month’s water supply left: CM

Mumbai: The water crisis in Mumbai will worsen if there is no rainfall by mid June, Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan has warned.

“Only one month water supply left for Mumbai if there is no rainfall by June 15th,” he said on Friday. But Chavan’s warning may go waste.

As much as 700 million litres of water is being wasted and stolen every day. There have been 20 cases of pipe bursts over the past two months. Each pipeline burst leads to a loss of 3-6 million litres of water Not just that, 700 million litres of water is lost every day to minor leakages and thefts.

Between April 2009 and March 2010 more than 25 thousand leakages and five thousand 100 cases of water theft were reported Security check posts have been set up at various spots across the pipeline network but leakages and thefts still continue. In the British era, horsemen were deployed to patrol pipelines. The city municipal corporation is now considering a similar move by employing men on bicycles to guard the pipelines.

From IbnLive

Plastic out, cloth in at BMC markets

After banning plastic bags thinner than 50 microns and making municipal markets plastic-free, the BMC has now started a drive to induce the use of cloth bags. By tying up with an initiative called Mumbai Bags, the BMC aims to sell cloth bags at all municipal markets at a cost of Rs 2 per bag. At a function on Saturday to launch Mumbai Bags, additional municipal commissioner Manisha Mhaiskar said it was important to make cloth bags available so that citizens can avoid plastic. “The idea is to sell the bags at strategic locations such as our 103 civic-owned markets. Since the price of Rs 2 is affordable we hope more and more citizens will come forward to buy them,” said Mhaiskar. To make the project commercially viable, the civic body will allow corporate bodies to place advertisements on the cloth bags. Citizens’ corporator from Juhu Adolf D’souza, who is behind the concept, said ad space on the bags would attract companies. “This is one of the reasons why we will be able to provide these bags at such a reasonable cost,” said D’Souza.

From Indian Express

Anti-plastic drive: Buy cloth bags for Rs 2

With the civic body trying to implement a strict ban on plastic bags, an initiative called MumbaiBags is planning to use innovative marketing strategies to do the same.

By way of a marketing technique, MumbaiBags aims to provide a cloth bag for just Rs 2. They will approach corporate houses to advertise on the bags so that funds can be generated to make more bags.

“Through this project we are trying to give people alternatives to plastic bags which are cheap and usable,” said Adolf Dsouza a Juhu corporator. Dsouza and his colleague, Rajiv Raut, are the brains behind the project.

“Cloth bags will act like moving mini-billboards and hence companies should be interested,” said Dsouza.

The project and its website www.MumbaiBags.com will be launched on Saturday in the presence of Mayor Shraddha Jadhav and Additional Municipal Commissioner of the western suburbs Manisha Mhaiskar.

“These bags are made of cloth and are recyclable and reusable,” added Dsouza.

They are confident of selling at least one lakh cloth bags in a month to begin with.

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation has banned the sale and use of plastic bags thinner than 50 microns in the city.

“It is a great initiative and should be supported. Use of plastic bags is detrimental to the environment,” said Jadhav.

From Hindustan Times

Mumbai: Water-starved city faces 35% cut after pipe bursts

MUMBAI: In what appears to be one of the worst pipeline bursts this year, a six-foot-diameter pipe burst in Bhiwandi on Monday evening. So great is the damage that the entire city will have to do with around 35% less water supply for the next couple of days—something unprecedented in recent history.

“It will take at least two days for the pipe to be repaired. We tried to arrest the water gushing out but it took time because the damage was huge,’’ said deputy municipal commissioner Dineshchandra Gondalia. “We cannot say with certainty how long the repair work will take but we are trying to speed it up as much as possible.’’

The incident occurred at Valgaon near Gundavli on a pipeline carrying water from Tansa to the Bhandup Water Complex around 7 pm. Officials said the age of the century-old pipeline could be the major reason for the burst although the immediate trigger was not known.

At the time of going to press, civic officials were still examining the extent of the damage. Local farmers are worried that the huge flow of water into their fields will damage the standing crops. The repair work is likely to begin in the wee hours of Tuesday.

The Tansa (East) main supplies water to all the major reservoirs of the city from the Bhandup Water Complex. Officials said that almost all parts of Mumbai would face a water shortage till the repairs were complete.

At present, the water content in the lakes supplying the city is 4.57 million litres as opposed to 6 million litres last year.

Frequent pipe bursts in recent times have added to the woes of Mumbai, which is already reeling under a 15% water cut. A recent Right To Information (RTI) query revealed that there were as many as 1,031 cases of pipe bursts or leaks in 2009, draining the city of millions of litres of water.

In fact, the BMC reported about three cases of burst or leaking pipes every day in 2009. The biggest burst last year was in May, when a pipe at Lalbaug ruptured while the flyover there was being constructed. This year, there was a major pipeline burst at Nana Chowk in Grant Road.

According to a hydraulic official, the 3-km stretch between Gundavli and Tarai—where the pipeline splintered open—will have to be isolated. “Once we isolate the stretch, we will have to drain out all the water,’’ he said. “After the patch dries up, we will be able to weld it. The quantity of water lost has not yet been estimated.’’

From TOI