Although the ban of plastic bags below 40 microns was announced in 2015, the BBMP has now started slapping fines.

Bengalureans carry plastic bags at own risk else pay Rs 500 fine
news Civic Issues Tuesday, July 31, 2018 - 17:29

In a renewed attempt to curb plastic menace in Bengaluru, the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) has decided to slap a Rs 500 fine on consumers if spotted with a plastic bag in the city. For subsequent violations, users will be fined Rs 1,000.

 An official of the BBMP said although the ban of plastic below 40 microns was announced in 2015, the Palike has been enforcing it only since World Environment Day (June 5). Also, previously, only commercial establishments were raided and penalised.

Ramkanth, a member of Solid Waste Management Round Table, which is collectively working with BBMP, said that several workshops are being organised across the city to educate street vendors, caterers and other large-scale producers to stop the usage of plastic.

“We are trying to engage with all stakeholders, especially street vendors, to encourage the use of alternatives. Additionally, we are conducting raids three to four days a week. Last week, in the south zone, we collected 6 tonnes of plastic from a single store,” Ramkanth told TNM.

Speaking on the ineffectiveness of the previous ban, he said that the inflow of plastic from other states is the major problem as the state pollution board has shut down more than 20 industries producing plastics.  

Read: ‘If not fined heavily, nothing is taken seriously’: Bengalureans welcome the fine on plastic use

However, he insisted, “The main problem in Bengaluru is the lack of initiative of the political class and the hesitation of the officials to implement the ban. It is only now, due to pressure from various groups that there is some action. Although Karnataka is one of the first states to ban plastic, it has not been successful due to a limitation in imposing fine and enforcement.”

Recently, the BBMP has been on an overdrive three years after it had officially introduced a blanket ban on plastics. On July 26, a total of 1.5 lakh tonnes of plastics were seized by officials from retail outlets located in Avenue Road, KR Market and Neelasandra. The Palike had imposed fines of Rs 10,000 on small vendors and up to Rs 1 lakh on large businesses for using plastic despite the ban.

Although the BBMP banned plastic below 40 microns, single-use plastic constitutes 20% of the city’s dry waste. In 2016, the state government had banned usage of all forms of plastic.   

The New Indian Express reported that the BBMP is planning to build an integrated portal and hire contract-based junior health inspectors, who will be armed with handheld devices at the ward level, to issue receipts of fine and also record incidents and photographs of violation along with a timestamp. This information can be monitored from the central dashboard.

On July 9, Karnataka Deputy CM and Bengaluru Development Minister G Parameshwara had warned that establishments using plastic will lose their trade licenses if they are found violating the plastic ban.

Since the ban was imposed in 2015, officials have launched multiple crackdowns on plastic but the issue seems to be far from resolved. In another large-scale seizure in March 2017, BBMP had seized a total of eight tonnes of plastic from establishments located in central Bengaluru.