Team of unknown persons is conducting unauthorised raids

A group of persons, which claims to be working under the direction of a Standing Committee of Chennai Corporation Council, has emerged as an obstacle to the campaign against the trade of illegal plastic bags. These persons, claiming to represent the Standing Committee on Health and Family Welfare of the council, have been allegedly visiting business units involved in the trade to ‘seize illegal plastic bags.’ However, they have been permitting the trade of below-40-micron plastic bags with ‘the permission of the Committee,’ allegedly after collecting money for the same.

The latest raids were conducted in Madhavaram on Wednesday. However, civic body officials were not aware of the raids. The consignments were however released by the same persons who conducted raids after allegedly obtaining permission from the Committee. Raids were also organised by the team in units on Wall Tax Road that were transporting illegal plastic bags from areas such as Baroda, Erode, Salem and Puducherry.

The persons once again ‘permitted’ the trade of all the 22 seized consignments of illegal plastic bags.

The team’s activities are becoming a headache to the Chennai Corporation. Many wholesale dealers, unaware of the powers of the civic body, have started to smuggle illegal plastic bags below 40 microns with the support of the team. This has facilitated resumption of retail sale of illegal plastic bags in many shops in the city.

The illegal sale of such plastic bags was brought under control after more than 300 registered units and hundreds of unauthorised units were regulated by the civic body’s intensive drive a few months ago.

Plastic bags that have less than a 40 micron thickness have been banned, as per the provisions of the Centre’s notification on Plastic Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 2011. However, the retail outlets in the city have started to procure plastic bags with a thickness of less than 20 microns again. “The bags being transported from Daman and Diu with stamp of 41 micron thickness too are found to be actually thinner,” said Vivekanandan, one of the representatives of plastic manufacturers in Chennai. “Source segregation is the only solution to the problem. Any person throwing plastic waste out should be punished. All the plastic should be recycled,” he added.

The civic body claimed that it seized over 30 tonnes of plastic bags in the raids so far but is yet to prevent transportation of the bags into the city. Chairman of the Standing Committee of Health and Family Welfare A. Palani said the traders should bring any such unauthorised persons claiming to represent the Committee to the notice of the civic body authorities concerned. “We want to make the city plastic free. We will request the authorities to take action against such people,” he added.

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