Most traders across markets in the city refrained from using plastic less than 75 micron thick on Friday as the blanket ban came into effect.
Several traders said they feared that there could be raids by the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) or police and anyone found giving a single-use plastic to a customer might have to pay a fine.
On Monday, the state environment department issued a notification banning manufacture, import, stock, distribution, sale and use of several single-use plastic items. It will come into effect on July 1. Any trader found selling items in plastic less than 75 micron thick will be fined Rs 500 and the buyer will be fined Rs 50.
On Friday, KMC officials visited markets. Such visits will continue for the next few days. Penalties won’t be imposed immediately. Surprise visits will start from next week, a KMC official said.
“We are giving some time to the traders to get accustomed with the new system. They have to use plastic bags that are at least 75 micron in thickness or paper bags or cloth bags,” said the official.
In some markets, a number of traders who failed to buy the plastic bags permitted by the government did not open their stalls.
A resident of Kasba in south Kolkata said several fishmongers at Jadavgarh market did not open stalls on Friday. “I was told that these people did not open their stalls as they feared action if they were found using the banned plastic bags,” said the man.
Dipankar Saha, the secretary of Gariahat Market Byabsayee Samiti, said they sent some people posing as customers to the vegetable and fish sections of the market but found that the traders were not giving single-use plastics. “I will say that an overwhelming majority of traders did not use the single-use plastic bags,” he said.
Vijay Kumar Shaw, the joint secretary of Maniktala Bazaar Byabsayee Samiti, said they had told the 700 traders in the market to ask customers to bring bags from their homes.
But several traders admitted that they still had a stock of single-use plastic bags. They would not use it in the first few days and gauge how serious the government and the KMC are in implementing the ban.
“Earlier too, the KMC had said that they would not allow single-use plastic bags, but the enthusiasm to implement the ban faded away within a few days,” said a trader.
“If the same thing is repeated then traders will again start using plastic less than 75 micron thick because the production is still on illegally.”