The cities of Panaji, Margao and Mapusa in Goa have joined the bandwagon to do away with plastic bags disposed of in shops, and they have wasted no time in implementing this decision.
Manohar Parrikar, the Chief Minister of Goa, had set 30 May 2018 as the deadline to ban plastic from shops and vendors. However, the Corporation of City of Panaji and Margao Municipal Council have made provisions to impose the ban two months in advance.
Starting Monday (2 April 2018), plastic bags below 50 microns are banned in these areas. No shops or vendors are allowed to distribute or sell them without prior permission.
The authorities have made provisions for shopkeepers to register themselves with the government in case they want to continue the distribution of plastic bags after the ban. In such a case, the shopkeepers would have to pay a monthly fine of Rs 4,000 or an annual fine of Rs 48,000.
If a shop or a vendor is found distributing the bags without proper registration, they will attract a fine of Rs 5,000 and all the bags in the shop will be confiscated.
These rules seem justified given that their environmental costs are burdensome for communities and the planet. If followed strictly, plastic bags will virtually disappear from the areas. However, a few shopkeepers have voiced their opinions against the move. They claim they need more time and co-operation from the government before the move is set in motion.
The Panaji Municipal Market Tenant Association, for example, is requesting the government to give them a little time to arrange for alternatives. Rajendra Damaskar, the president of the association told the Times of India, “We know that plastic causes pollution and we support the ban, but we cannot stop immediately. Both the traders and customers need to be given some time to adjust. If plastic is banned, the government should provide us with alternatives. The government must support us and supply cloth bags and other alternatives to traders at subsidised rates.”
The concerns of this association are understandable. Citizens are used to getting plastic bags in shops in case they aren’t carrying their own.
For shopkeepers, plastic bags are very convenient commodities since they can carry fruits, vegetables, grains as well as meat, fish etc.
A blanket ban on these bags is a challenge to both, customers and shopkeepers, but it is a challenge we should all be proud of taking up. We are all familiar with the dangers of dumping plastic; it is something that does not require a reminder, so, impositions like this ban are a good warning for us.
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To make it easier to cope with the ban, here are a few alternatives you can use. Make sure you share them with your friends too, so that we can cut down the use of plastic by a wide margin.
1. Biodegradable plastic bags: Just as convenient, but completely eco-friendly.
2. Bio-plastic from prawn shells: This would be perfect in Goa
3. Plastic made from Dhak leaves: You can help the villagers of Patharkat Mohalla while being eco-friendly.
4. Say no to plastic plates: You have eco-friendly alternatives to dine in.
5. Exchange your scrap for eco-friendly bags in Mumbai: What an inspiring idea!
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)