Staff Reporter

No mechanism in place to check thickness of bags

Customers forced to believe claims of traders

Lack of coordination between agencies alleged

KOCHI: The enforcement of plastic ban will not be an easy task in Ernakulam district as no mechanism is in place to check the thickness of plastic bags and cups using micrometers.

Six months after the local bodies and the Kerala State Pollution Control Board started a drive against plastic goods below 30 microns, the menace is continuing unchecked for want of support from the authorities.

Customers have no other option but to believe traders who claim that the plastic item distributed through the shop is above 30 microns.

The board and the local bodies do not have any official statistics about the number of plastic items seized following the checks using micrometer facility (equipment to check thickness of plastic).

Several such consignments of plastic have reached the district in violation of the provisions under the Environment Protection Act.

A blame game is on, as board officials point out that the local bodies should carry out regular checks using micrometer.

The latter counter the argument saying that they lack the scientific acumen to use such gadgets. The head office of the Pollution Control Board in Thiruvananthapuram also lack statistics about the number of consignments (plastic) seized for violating the rules and regulations.

Senior officials agree that there is a lack of concerted effort between several agencies entrusted with the task of controlling plastic menace in the district.

Officials of the Commercial Taxes Department said that checks were usually conducted during the initial days of the ban.

The department had the powers to confiscate plastic below 30 microns. But most of the raids were carried out unscientifically, with officials not using micrometers to ascertain the thickness of the material.

Board officials said that the very low penalty imposed for carrying such illegal consignments was a deterrent in the drive against plastic. By paying a paltry fine of Rs.200, the one can bail oneself out of such cases.