Capital plastic ban rolls with spot fines, small traders cry foul
The civic body’s overnight resolution to implement the spot fine system for those using plastic has irked citizens, who say the corporation is arbitrarily imposing the ban without sensitising the people on the same.
The Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation on Wednesday took up the issue at its monthly council meet and passed a unanimous resolution over the spot fine system that brings into its ambit the housing societies to the hotel and restaurant owners to small and large-scale industries in the city.
While the fine amount ranges from Rs 200 to Rs 50,000, criminal proceedings can also be initiated against the violators. The civic body had formed a separate enforcement squad, which spread across the city and started raiding from Thursday.
“It is highly arbitrary of the civic officials to implement a spot fine system overnight since they are yet to decide on the alternative and conduct the awareness camps over the ill effects of the banned plastic. I have no idea which are the plastic items included in the banned list,” said Kalpana Ojha, a shopkeeper at Rajdhani Haat.
“They might have passed the resolution in a closed-door meeting. But, it has to be intimated to the people,” said social worker Alok Kar. He said this was not the way to implement the ban. “They have decided to put up the plastic shredding unit and reverse vending machines, but are yet to install them. They have also not conducted proper awareness activities to sensitise people on the banned items,” he said.
Thursday’s raids targeted street vendors, who were running small-scale businesses such as the fruit sellers, fast food kiosks as well as betel and tea shops. “We have always been the soft target for them. They can’t go to bigger malls since they feed them money and we can’t,” said Amulya, a fruit seller.
The squads conducted raids at Unit-I Haat and nearby areas and seized 16kg of polythene. In the south east zone, the squad seized 5kg of polythene. In the north zone, they raided 45 places and seized 5kg of polythene and 500 pieces of plastic glasses and plates.
The civic body, in its resolution, also included housing societies, a move that has come as a shocker for many. “How will they know it who is using single-use plastic in his or her home? Has it also been decided that the civic officials will barge into the people’s houses to conduct raids?” asked Patia resident Mihir Pradhan.
On this, Jena said it was not the individual houses, but the housing societies would be fined if they violated the norms. “The squads will not enter any individual house for raids, but if it is found that the plastic is dumped in the area, the respective housing society will be fined,” said Jena.
Mayor Ananta Narayan Jena said the single-use plastic — pet bottles, plastic plates and glasses — is included in the banned items, and it was already intimated to the people on October 2. “It is almost a month since the plastic has officially been ban in the city. Such stringent measures are needed to implement it effectively,” said the mayor.
According to the forest and environment department’s notification issued on September 30, the banned plastic items include single-use disposable cutleries made of thermocol or plastic such as dish, spoon, cup, plate, glass, fork, bowl and pouch to store liquid and container of any size and shape.