Plastic bags less than 75 micron cannot be used from July 1. But across markets in Kolkata, plastics that are much thinner were still being used till Thursday.
Traders in several markets felt that it could again be a repeat of previous attempts to ban the use of single-use plastics.
Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) had previously made similar attempts but the vigils were short-lived.
KMC officials said from Friday, the thrust would be on awareness drives. Any seller found giving products in a plastic bag less than 75 micron thick can be fined Rs 500 and the buyer can be fined Rs 50.
The Telegraph spoke to civic officials and traders about what could be the picture in markets from Friday.
Traders in several markets said the government should clamp down on the production of such plastics to make the ban effective. “If there is no supply, traders and buyers will stop looking for them,” said Dipankar Saha, secretary, Gariahat Market Trader’s Association.
The civic body doesn’t want to take an aggressive approach immediately. “We are putting up posters, distributing leaflets and conducting awareness meetings in markets,” said a senior KMC official.
“We may not aggressively impose penalties right from the first day but that doesn’t mean we won’t penalise anyone.”
The price factor
While a packet made of single-use plastic costs 10 paise, one packet of a 75-micron thick plastic costs between Rs 2 and Rs 5, said a supplier of plastic bags. The supplier said if the production of plastic less than 75 micron thick was stopped, people would be forced to use thicker plastic bags.
Many traders said they still had some stock of single-use plastic and would not bring those out unless forced to. “It is not possible to give a 75 micron thick bag for free. Customers pay around Rs 6 in retail chains for a bag but refuse to pay us,” said a trader.
The competition is such that someone else agrees to give a single-use plastic bag, the customer will move to that shop.