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

Dipstick surveys have found that over 50 per cent of households now carry their own bags
‘If not fined heavily, nothing is taken seriously’: Bengalureans welcome the fine on plastic use
‘If not fined heavily, nothing is taken seriously’: Bengalureans welcome the fine on plastic use
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When the notification was issued on March 11 for a blanket ban on plastic, many in Bengaluru wondered how seriously the ban would be enforced. The BBMP, gave one indication of its seriousness when it imposed a fine on May 9 on domestic and commercial users continuing to defy the ban.

According to reports, the BBMP is penalising commercial users of plastic with a fine of Rs 25,000 and individual domestic users with Rs 500 for committing the offence for the first time. What that translates to for individuals is a fine anytime they are seen carrying plastic items in public. Manufacturing, storing, trading, retailing and selling of plastic are also to be fined heavily.

BBMP commissioner, N Manjunath Prasad, said that the introduction of the fine has been a fairly successful exercise thus far. “The fine is a deterrent to the usage of plastic and over Rs 25 lakh worth of fines have been collected since the issue of the notification.”

For residents’ welfare organisations around the city, the ban and the subsequent imposition of the fine have come as a welcome move since it has put the responsibility for plastic use squarely on individual users. Yagna, a member of Whitefield Rising, the resident's welfare group, says, “If we aren't fined heavily, nothing is taken seriously. Citizens and shopkeepers are now switching over to more eco-friendly alternatives."

Earlier, she said, the difficulty in enforcing the ban arose from the tendency to simply defer the problem by insisting that it be handled at the manufacturing level. But now, that has been taken care of as well.

Arthi Aleya from HaSiRu Mithra, a residents’ welfare organization in HSR Layout is also welcoming of the fine, which she says has, “really helped the public”. She also feels that the ban and the fine are important for the non-human residents of the city, as animals tend to feed on the plastic leading to severe health issues.

Dipstick surveys, such as the one conducted by the Times of India among 115 households have also found that 51.3 per cent of them now carry their own bags on a regular basis for all their shopping, up from 16 per cent before the ban.

Sharada, a member of the Bangalore Eco Team believes that a fine is an ideal method to enforce the ban on plastic since it pinches people where it matters, in their wallets. However, she cautions, for the plastic ban to be successful, it has to be rigorously enforced over a long period of time. “Constant reinforcement is required by the BBMP as well as the citizens.” She also cautioned that alternatives to plastic bags should be properly regulated, so that they are indeed eco-friendly.

Many shopkeepers are passing off polypropylene bags as “batte bags”, she points out, which are actually made of plastic and so detrimental to the environment. 

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