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Since 1st March, 1999
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Hill town to re-impose ban
- Civic bodies hope for public cooperation

Kalimpong, June 26: The Kalimpong Municipality has decided to re-impose a ban on the use of plastic carry bags in the town from July 1.

Announcing the ban, municipality health officer S. B. Zimba said he hoped residents would help the civic authorities successfully implement the order, which is based on a circular issued by the West Bengal Pollution Control Board (WBPCB) in February this year that declared the hills “no plastic zone”.

Similar bans had been imposed in Kalimpong on numerous occasions in the past, but could not be carried out.

The civic health authorities and environmentalists are hoping that the current dumping crisis, which has brought to the fore the indiscriminate use of plastic here, will have sensitised the people enough to inspire them into making a success of the ban.

Garbage has been accumulating along the streets of Kalimpong after people living near the original dumping ground in Lower Bhalukhop stopped the civic body from throwing trash there.

Zimba said according to the WBPCB circular, the trade licences of businessmen found violating the ban will be cancelled or withdrawn, while other violators will face fines. “We have yet to decide on the amount of the fine, but will be looking at penalties imposed by other towns and cities as a guide,” he added.

Violators in Darjeeling, for instance, are fined Rs 200 for every offence.

The Kalimpong Chamber of Commerce has promised full cooperation in implementing the ban. “In the past, similar bans have fizzled out because of a lack of will to see it through. However, on our part, we will work out a very strong strategy to educate the traders on the issue,” said Bharat Mani Pradhan, an adviser to the traders’ body.

Environmental activists, too, have welcomed the ban order. “It is a step in the right direction, but we have miles to go before we can address the larger issue of environmental degradation,” said Praful Rao, the convener of Save the Hills, an NGO.

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