The anti-plastic campaign of the Kochi Corporation, which was shelved following the recent fire at Brahmapuram solid waste plant site, may be re-introduced shortly. Even as the civic authorities vow to curb the use of plastic carry bags in its third attempt, the corporation seemed to be ill-equipped to restrain the menace.
Originally, the corporation had planned to impose the ban on use of plastic carry bags below 40 micron from March 1. It was also planning to undertake extensive campaigns in the city against the use of plastic bags from the first week of March. However, the fire upset the programmes of the local body and it had to focus its attention on fire-fighting measures and pacifying the Vadavukode-Puthencruz panchayat which issued a stop memo to the solid waste management plant.
With the fire dying down and the protest against the plant settled through mediations, the Health Standing Committee of the corporation is planning to launch the campaign by March 10. It will ban plastic carry bags below 40 micron and marshal its health inspectors to check shops for banned plastic.
However, the corporation lacks men and machine to impose the ban. All that the local body has to gauge the thickness of the plastic bags in the city is two micro metres. There are also around 30 wholesale traders in the city selling plastic carry bags to retailers and shops and other commercial establishments.
The inspection of shops for banned plastic would be an additional task to the health inspectors who are burdened with everything from anti-mosquito drives to ensuring the removal of refuse from the city streets. Moreover, the corporation has not yet ensured the supply of alternative materials for plastic bags.
T.K. Ashraf, chairman of the Health Standing Committee of the corporation, said a meeting of health inspectors would be convened on Wednesday to discuss the campaign. The local body will focus its attention on wholesale traders dealing with plastic carry bags for preventing its outflow to retailers and households, he said.
Around 90 per cent of the plastic waste reaching the Brahmapuram plant is plastic carry bags. Restricting the use of such bags would solve the menace to a considerable extent.
A proposal for setting up a plastic shredding unit at Brahmapuram is under consideration. The corporation may also consider the option of providing cloth and paper bags made by various agencies including Kudumbasree units as an alternative for the plastic bags, he said.
K.N. Sunilkumar, the CPI (M) parliamentary party secretary in the council, criticised the drive as a futile exercise. No such campaigns can succeed without providing a viable alternative to the people. In this case too, the ban was being attempted without the required preparations, he said.