The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Plastic levies heavy penalty on township
- Two-week civic drive from October 2 to check menace

The menace is back with a bang in the state government's development showpiece, Salt Lake.

With plastic bags posing a big threat to the township's infrastructure, the government has asked Bidhannagar Municipality to pull up its socks and launch a clean-up drive before the Pujas.

'We will launch our biggest campaign against plastic on October 2,' said municipality chairman Dilip Gupta. 'All ward committees will be involved in the two-week campaign and the township will be cleaned before the festivity kicks off,' he added. Simultaneous campaigns will be launched on garbage clearing as well.

At a meeting with civic officials last week, urban development and municipal affairs minister Asok Bhattacharya had expressed concern over the increase in the use of plastic bags in Salt Lake.

The chairpersons-in-council and civic officials will campaign against the menace at three key points ' PNB island, Karunamoyee and tank no. 13. The councillors will run the campaign in their respective wards.

'We've decided to involve fully the ward committees to make the drive effective,' Gupta explained. The members will interact with the public at main markets and persuade shopkeepers not to pack articles in plastic bags. The councillors and ward committees will also keep vigil on the municipality's cleaning staff, engaged in garbage-clearing.

'There is a need for user-level control to root out the menace,' said CPM councillor Chandan Ghosh. 'We had run a campaign last year, too, following which the situation was brought under control. But it was back to square one after a few months,' Ghosh added.

Things went out of hand this monsoon, with sewer channels overflowing in large parts of the township. Officials said the drains were choked by plastic bags, thrown indiscriminately by users. 'Sewer pipes, with very small diameters, get easily choked when plastic bags find their way into them,' a civic engineer explained. For the same reason, he added, large parts of the township get flooded even after an hour's smart shower.

Trinamul Congress councillor Sabyasachi Dutta alleged that the municipality had failed to curb the menace despite repeated attempts. 'Shopkeepers at all major markets are selling articles packed in plastic bags. There's a need for stringent penalty to curb the practice,' he said.

Various agencies have now come together to fight the menace. The West Bengal Pollution Control Board has been holding regular dialogues with the authorities. 'The problem persists, and apart from affecting the infrastructure, it's also causing visual pollution,' said Shyamal Sarkar, member-secretary.

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