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Plastic waste continues to choke Puducherry

M. Nevis Vanan and
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Despite the ban and repeated raids, use of plastic still rampant

Most of the drainage canals, including Karuvadikuppam, Mettu Vaikal and Palla Vaikal, are littered with plastic bags, cups and plates.— Photo: G. Krishnaswamy
Most of the drainage canals, including Karuvadikuppam, Mettu Vaikal and Palla Vaikal, are littered with plastic bags, cups and plates.— Photo: G. Krishnaswamy

Though there is a ban on non-biodegradable plastic in Puducherry, the lack of effective enforcement mechanism has failed to take forward the well-intended ban.

Considering the rampant use of plastics, the territorial administration had enforced a ban on sale of plastic bags up to 51 micron in 2009.

As per the Central act, the sellers of plastic bags up to 51 micron can be prosecuted.

However, ground reports indicate that the Department of Science & Technology has made little progress over preventing sale of banned plastic bags. The practice of bringing vegetables, rice, groceries and other household items in plastic bags continues to thrive, causing degradation of environment.

Most of the drainage canals, including Karuvadikuppam, Mettu Vaikal and Palla Vaikal, are littered with plastic bags, cups and plates .

The open canals have become dumping ground for used plastic bags and bottles, interrupting free flow of sewage in many places.

Since the use of plastic bags is on the rise, municipalities and other local bodies also find it tough to clear them from roads and canals.

Even pharmacies run by private hospitals, which are supposed to spearhead the campaign against the evils of plastics, use thin plastics for packing medicines and tablets.

Similarly, retails stores, departmental stores, vegetable shops, meat stalls and roadside eateries invariably prefer plastic bags for packing.

According to an estimate, marriage halls dispose of at least 50,000 plastic cups on a single ‘muhurtham’ day in Puducherry.

“We found it hard to purchase plastic bags a few months ago owing to strict implementation. Now, there is no problem in getting plastic bags in the market. Though we insist that customers bring cloth or coir bags to escape raid by authorities, most of the customers ask us to pack the items in plastic bags. Hence, we continue to pack items in plastic bags,” said a grocery merchant in Lawspet.

However, the Department of Science & Technology, which monitors the implementation of the ban, is of the view that it has achieved moderate success in preventing use of plastics less than 51 microns.

M. Dwarakanath, director, DS&T, told The Hindu that they recently raided a big godown owned by a wholesale merchant of plastic bags in Puducherry and seized a huge stock. The entire lot of plastic bags was cut into pieces and sent for recycling.

The godown was also sealed and closed for four months. This had sent a strong message to all merchants and retails vendors in Puducherry. The raids would continue and violators of the ban would be prosecuted.

The aim was to prevent sale of banned plastics at the source itself. Review meeting with various departments and agencies would be conducted at regular intervals to prevent the use of banned plastics, Mr.Dwarakanath said.

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