| A man carries a plastic bag. File picture |
May 16: The Guwahati Municipal Corporation’s recent order banning the use or sale of disposable plastic utensils and items and thermocol has drawn mixed reactions from different organisations in the city, with the All Guwahati Students’ Union (AGSU) welcoming the order and saying it would push for the order’s effective implementation.
The corporation had passed the order on May 15 in view of the fact that people commonly dump non-biodegradable plastic utensils and packets on the roadsides and drains, leading to clogged drains in the city.
The GMC said in its order that since the drains in the city were clogged to capacity, free flow of excess rainwater through them was obstructed, thereby leading to frequent flash floods during heavy showers in the city.
The order, which has prohibited use of thermocol in packaging of fish, vegetables and ice, among others, has also barred people from depositing plastic items and thermocol at public places, streets, drains or water bodies within the Guwahati municipal area.
The corporation, however, has given three weeks’ time to traders as well as the public to comply with the order, following which strict measures will be taken against offenders.
While some traders have welcomed the order, others have cited the rising price of paper as the reason behind the difficulty in switching from plastic to paper items.
“It is true that the GMC’s decision of banning disposable plastic item like cups, plates and plastic bags has been taken keeping in mind their detrimental effect on the environment and the fact that they clog drains. But one practical problem in providing paper bags to customers in place of plastic ones is that the cost of paper has been rising. While a plastic bag is available at Rs 2-Rs 3, one has to pay Rs 7-Rs 8 for a paper bag. However, if the escalating price of paper is regulated, it will be easier for us to substitute plastic with paper,” said R.K. Choudhury, a trader in the city.
“While plastics of less than 100 microns can be banned, those between 100-200 microns should be allowed, as they can be used again and again for several months at a stretch,” said Choudhury.
“We have welcomed the ban on plastic items. Before plastics came into the market, people used bags made from cloth and paper to carry goods. Since the decision has been taken for the greater benefit of the people, it is our responsibility to cooperate and find a substitute to plastics. In fact, our association had also submitted a memorandum before the chief minister, demanding a total ban on polythene bags in the entire state,” Assam Chamber of Commerce chairman Rupam Goswami said.
AGSU president Kusha Rongpi said, “Plastics have clogged the drainage system in the city to such an extent that a single heavy shower is sufficient to flood low-lying areas here. The decision to ban disposable plastic items and thermocol was the need of the hour. We will support this order and closely monitor that it is properly implemented.”