Vyapari Vyavasayi Ekopana Samithi moves court

The City Corporation will not withdraw its decision to carry out a drive against plastic carry bags, senior officials of the civic body say.

The Kerala Vyapari Vyavasayi Ekopana Samithi had moved the court against the civic body’s drive. The drive launched by the Corporation targeted plastic materials of all thickness and not just that below 40 microns, as prescribed by law.

“We need to examine the legal aspect of this issue again and we would resort to other means of protest against the use of plastic carry bags, if not to picket stores. But our efforts over the past months have paid off, for most of the up-market stores have completely switched to cloth bags,” said health standing committee chairperson S. Pushpalatha.

At Spencers, store-owners pasted posters outside the shop requesting customers to start bringing their own bags for the shop planned to stop its use of plastic carry bags at the start of this year. According to Shibu Kumar, manager, the store received a regular supply of cloth bags from New Delhi. Over 5 tonnes had been stocked at their head office, he said.

“Also, people are much more aware now and even before the Corporation began this initiative, many were already using such alternatives,” he said.

Moreover, at markets such as Palayam too, change was evident. Gowriamma, a vegetable vendor here, said though she charged Rs.3 or 5 extra for cloth bags, most were willing to pay and others who did initially grumble made it a point to bring large carry bags from home.

“I buy it from a store here for Rs.180 a kilo, and I cannot afford to give it free of cost,” she said.

“We need to ensure that smaller stores and vendors in the city are able to procure cloth bags,” Ms. Pushpalatha said.

So far, training has been given to around 10 Kudumbasree workers and they had started manufacturing the bags.

Ms. Pushpalatha also spoke of the issue of small store owners acquiring those bags being brought from across the border.

“At places such as Tirunelveli and Thanjavur, there is a whole mechanised system in place and they bring plastic blend bags (the material used includes plastic and cloth) in bulk, which is sold here at much lower rates that what the Kudumbashree units charge. There needs to be an all-party meeting to decide what to do with this influx.

We intend to establish a network of Kudumbashree tailoring units. We do not want a repeat of what happened to the Cleanwell workers after the Vilappilsala waste treatment plant was shut,” she said.