150 people fined for throwing plastic bags in drains

Cracking the whip on all those throwing plastic bags in drains, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has fined nearly 150 people and collected a fine of Rs 1.32 lakh in a fortnight.

After having learnt lessons from July 26 deluge, when plastic bags had blocked drains and led to flooding in the metropolis, the civic body has formed two ‘plastic ban’ squads consisting of six people.

“We have collected a fine of Rs 1.32 lakh from 146 people who were caught throwing plastic in drains in the last 12-13 days. These people are largely hawkers and shopkeepers,” Deputy Municipal Commissioner Rajendra Bhosale told PTI here.

On June 11, Municipal Commissioner Swadhin Kshatriya had announced that anyone caught throwing plastic, thermocol and other items during monsoon will have to pay fine ranging from Rs 100-5,000.

“These cases are mostly from eastern suburbs like Kurla, Mulund, Chembur, Govandi and others followed by western suburbs and the island city,” Bhosale said.

Drain clogging had led to massive flooding on July 26, 2005 forcing the state government to contemplate banning polythene bags.

As per the Maharashtra Non-biodegradable Garbage Control Act, the minimum thickness of plastic carry bags must be 50 micron and their size should be no less than 8×12 inches.

From Hindustan Times

Western Railways want all plastic banned

This is what the railways have told the municipal corporation.

At a joint inspection held last week by Central Railway (CR), Western Railway (WR) and Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) officials, the railway officials demanded a ban on plastic bags because they choke small drains along the tracks.

“We have asked the BMC to ban plastic bags,” said M.C. Chauhan, divisional railway manager, CR.

Every monsoon, at least 69 lakh commuters on Central and Western Railway lines suffer due to overflowing drains and flooding on tracks. Trains are forced to slow down or even stop if it rains heavily because there is limited scope for water to flow out if plastic bags choke drains.

The BMC has banned plastic bags thinner than 50 microns after the 2005 deluge but the railways want all plastic bags to be banned. The BMC has not been very effective in implementing the existing ban.

On Tuesday, when Mumbai received its first heavy showers, the railways had to deploy men to remove plastic from drains. “We have widened the nullahs and raised their height but plastic covers continue to choke them,” said a CR official.

Low-lying spots such as Vikhroli, Parel, Masjid Bunder, Ghatkopar and Wadala on the central line and Charni Road, Grant Road, Lower Parel, Bandra, and Matunga on the western line usually suffer because of this. “Plastic bags escalate problems when it rains heavily because they choke drains,” said G. Pillai, divisional railway manager, WR.

The railways complain that often water from drains along the roads flows to the tracks, which are at a lower level.

The railways have placed at least 1,000 men on round-the-clock duty to clean drains. They have also installed 100 pumps to drain water from tracks.

The BMC recently said those caught throwing plastic and garbage in drains will be fined. Within a week, it has penalised 227 offenders and collected a fine of Rs 1.5 lakh.

From THE HINDU

Students collect plastic wastes

NAGORE: The 188-kilometre-long coastline of the district, here from Kollidam to Kodiakkarai, marked the site of a massive one-day environmental initiative on Thursday. An intense three-hour coastal cleaning campaign was ushered in under the aegis of the district administration in observation of the World Environment Day.

The exercise was planned by Collector C. Munianathan. The campaign saw a participation of over 3,400 students from over 36 schools.

Non-degradable:Collector C. Munianathan and school students collecting waste plastic materials at Velankanni Church Beach.

The participants were students from standard eight to 12 and polytechnic students. Volunteers of NCC, NSS and JRC also participated.

The beach cleaning programme commenced at 2.30 p.m. at 25 specified locations under the supervision of district officials.

The locations were Nagore Sillady Beach and Pattinacherry, Nagapattinam New Beach and Old Beach, Akkaraipettai, Velankanni, Seruthur, P.R. Puram, Kameshwaram, Vettaikaraniruppu, Vizhundhumavady, Vellapallam, Pushpavanam, Arukattuthurai and Thopputhurai, Vedharanyam Beach, Maniyan Theevu, Kodiakkarai, Kodiyampalayam, Kottaimedu, Madavaimedu, Thirumullaivasal, Keemoovarkarai, Vanagiri, Poompuhar, Tharangambadi, and Chandrapadi.

They were shortlisted at a district-level meeting organised here on May 10 to work out the logistics of the campaign. The Forest Department provided gunny bags, first aid kits and soaps, while SHGs provided the participants with tea and snacks. Further, 108 emergency ambulance services were stationed at specified locations.

Wherever possible, tractors were engaged to plough out buried plastic materials.

Each student was assigned one to five gunny bags, and the collected biodegradable and non-degradable wastes were taken by the local municipalities to their respective compost yards. The Collector C. Munianathan inaugurated the campaign at Velankanni Beach, the District Revenue Officer, A. Annadurai, supervised the campaign at Tharangambadi Beach. M. Pannirselvam, Assistant Executive Engineer, Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board, along with V. Thirunavukarasu, District Forest Officer, supervised the campaign at Nagore Beach. Additionally, Naval officer, Nagapattinam, and Port Officer supervised the campaign at Nagapattinam Beach and Naval Officer, Thopputhurai, supervised at Arukattuthurai. The Chief Education Officer had organised the participation of schools from across the district. Officials from Naval Detachment, Port Authority, and school representatives supervised the cleaning initiative at specified locations. As part of corporate social responsibility industries such as PPN Power Generating Company, HOEC, Pillaiperumanallur; CPCL, Panangudi; IOCL, Muttam and Chemplast Sanmar Limited, Vedaranyam participated.

From THE HINDU

Stop dumping plastics in canals – EcoWaste

Green advocates appealed to the public Sunday to stop the disposal of plastic bags along waterways after heavy rains again triggered flashfloods in the metropolis last Friday.

As the country braces for severe storms and accompanying floods, the EcoWaste Coalition asked the public to prevent disposing of plastic bags that clog waterways especially during the rainy season.

EcoWaste coordinator Rei Panaligan said the flashfloods in some portions of Metro Manila last Friday was reminiscent of the floods caused by tropical storm “Ondoy” last year.

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) earlier warned that a repeat of storms “Ondoy” and “Pepeng” is likely with the prevalence of the La Niña event this year.

Based on the US National Weather Service (NWS), most climate models predict a transition from El Niño by June to the onset of La Niña conditions by July to September 2010.

EcoWaste also noted that, “carelessly thrown plastic bags block the drainage systems and waterways and will find their way into the country’s biggest ‘landfill,’ the Manila Bay, causing massive marine pollution.”

“Let us not forget the lessons of Ondoy and together cut our waste size, starting with single-use plastic bags,” Panaligan said.

The group urged Filipinos to reject all forms of littering and dumping, reduce trash and make it a habit to separate discards at source for reusing, recycling and composting.

A study by EcoWaste and Greenpeace show that synthetic plastic materials constitute 76 percent of the floating trash items in Manila Bay, with plastic bags comprising 51 percent; sachets and junk food wrappers, 19 percent; Styrofoam containers, five percent; and hard plastics, one percent.

The rest of the rubbish found in Manila Bay consisted of rubber (10 percent) and biodegradable discards (13 percent).

Another study published in 2009 by the US-based Ocean Conservancy revealed that 679,957 of over 1.2 million pieces of marine litter of various types that were gathered in seaside areas during the 2008 International Coastal Clean-Up Day in the country were plastic bags.

From MB

Chemicals in plastic may pose cancer risk

Plastics and food containers lay scattered in Cubbon park in Bangalore. Bisphenol A (BPA), which is found in plastic bottles, reusable food containers, and food cans, is ubiquitous in industrialized nations and is linked to cancer. File Photo: V. Sreenivasa Murthy

Scientists have described the cancer-causing effects of endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs), which have hormone-like effects in the body. The researchers at Tufts University School of Medicine said that although the health-threatening effects are known to a vast extent, more complex strategies for studying how these chemicals affect health are required.

“The strength and breadth of existing research on the negative effects of EDCs, including bisphenol A, warrants immediate action to reduce EDC exposure, particularly among the developing fetus and women of reproductive age,” said author Carlos Sonnenschein, MD, professor in the department of anatomy and cellular biology at Tufts University School of Medicine (TUSM).

Experts say that studies in rodents show that EDCs can cause harm if exposure happens during organ formation as opposed to exposures during adulthood.

“The evidence indicates that exposure to BPA and other EDCs may contribute to diseases that manifest during adult life, such as increased cancer rates in the industrialized world. These chemicals have also been linked to obesity, altered behavior, and infertility,” said author Ana Soto, MD, professor in the department of anatomy and cellular biology at TUSM.

BPA, which is found in plastic bottles, reusable food containers, and food cans, is ubiquitous in industrialized nations and is linked to cancer.

“EDCs act additively and their effects are dependent upon exposure and context, making them inherently complex to study. New mathematical modeling tools and computer simulations will provide a more precise understanding of how these chemicals interact with each other and within the body at different stages of life,” said Sonnenschein.

The article is published online on May 25 in Nature Reviews Endocrinology. – From THE HINDU

Non-degradable plastic products, a threat to environment

Two-day seminar on ‘global warming’ under way

TIRUNELVELI: The Tamil Nadu Science Forum’s two-day seminar on ‘Global warming’ commenced at Manonmaniam Sundaranar University here on Friday.

Addressing the seminar, Joint Secretary, Department of Agriculture, R. Vasuki, said that though awareness of global warming could be created across the world only after the later part of the 20th century, no consensus on the measures to be taken to effectively check the global threat could be arrived at even now.

She cautioned that the non-recyclable and non-degradable plastic products would be a serious threat to the environment. Kundrakudi Ponnambala Desigar, Registrar, MSU, S. Manickam, Vice-Chancellor, MSU, R.T. Sabapathy Mohan, and others spoke.

From THE HINDU

Seasonal Cool Drinks – But its all in Plastic

TO QUENCH THIRST:Cool drinks (Covered with Plastic Bottles) are in great demand in summer. A scene in Tuticorin. — Photo: N. Rajesh.

From THE HINDU