Councillors to visit wards urging people to abandon the use of plastic carry bags and switch to eco-friendlier alternatives

The awareness drive involving 1,000 squads was probably a tad ambitious, but nevertheless the city Corporation councillors are set to fulfil their New Year resolution of branching out into their respective wards to urge shoppers and traders to abandon the use of plastic carry bags and switch to eco-friendlier alternatives from Tuesday.

Building up to this campaign, Mayor K. Chandrika and chairpersons of various standing committees had visited priority areas such as Palayam and Chala markets where they went around distributing cloth bags. On New Year’s Day, Ms. Chandrika will visit Palayam again at 11 a.m.

On Monday, the Corporation launched its efforts at checking the use of plastic bags in educational institutions, with the Mayor leading an oath-taking ceremony at Karthika Tirunal Girls Higher Secondary School, Manacaud. The students pledged that they will avoid using plastic carry bags and promote the use of other alternatives.

Health standing committee chairperson S. Pushpalatha said a rally by school students was being planned. “Since schools have only just begun to reopen, we will finalise the details next week,” she said.

In coastal wards

The councillors of the five coastal wards falling under the aegis of the Vizhinjam zonal office will work together with the members of residents’ associations and visit markets and stores. “This is a serious environmental concern, and not just a waste management hassle. People are aware of this and support the cause, but many traders have shared their concern over whether they will have to shell out more to acquire cloth bags,” Vizhinjam councillor Gladys Alex said.

In phases

Ms. Pushpalatha reiterated that the Corporation had the support of the traders, but said the initiative could be realised only in a phased manner.

On a ticketing policy, she said that many councillors had mooted the idea of levying fine on traders using plastic carry bags, but a decision was yet to be taken. Focus would continue to be on the awareness drive during the month of January.

Apart from the public campaign, which is supplemented by a concerted effort by the Corporation authorities to promote Kudumbasree units producing cloth bags, health inspectors will intensify their weekly inspections.

“Every week, we fan out into the city to check food safety conditions in hotels and dumping of garbage in public places, and inspect stores to see if they keep plastic bags of less than 40 microns. These inspections will be carried out by more squads in 2013,” Health Officer of the Corporation D. Sreekumar said.

He said that since a total ban on plastic could not be imposed owing to lack of legal support, they could only speak to shop-owners to avoid its use.