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Residents’ bid to free New Town CE Block of plastic

Spurred by the United Nations’ slogan of ‘Beat plastic pollution’ for this year’s World Environment Day, the CE Block residents’ forum in New Town is trying to make the block a plastic-free one. 

  • Published 13.07.18
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Residents at the start of their anti-plastic rally.

Spurred by the United Nations’ slogan of ‘Beat plastic pollution’ for this year’s World Environment Day, the CE Block residents’ forum in New Town is trying to make the block a plastic-free one. 

As a first step towards that goal, the block organised an anti-plastic rally on July 1. Members of the CE Block Cultural Association marched across shouting slogans in support of their cause. They had twin objectives — generating awareness among residents and putting an end to the the use of single-use plastic carry bags.

The rally, with senior members of the association as participants, started at 7am and continued for three hours. They went knocking from door to door, distributing pamphlets, and whenever possible, spoke about the hazards of plastic waste. They urged neighbours to refrain from using illegal plastic bags thinner than 50 microns and advocated the use of cloth or jute bags as replacements.

The enthusiasm of the rallyists was infectious, with neither age nor ailment coming in the way of the will to participate. There was 86-year-old Ashok Kumar Lahiri, who wanted to do his bit to preserve the world for the future generations. There was six-year-old Arna Roychoudhury, who wanted her playground to be free of plastic waste. There was Mili Mitra, who did not let cancer stop her from walking a part of the way. And there was Sanjay Roy, who walked despite an injury to his foot.

Most residents of the block heartily welcomed this initiative. One was Baburam Nayer, who was standing in his lawn brushing his teeth when he was handed a pamphlet. 

The members of the association have also urged the shopkeepers in the block to use cloth bags or paper packets as replacements for the plastic carry bags. 

 Leaflets being distributed to spread awareness. (Debasmita Bhattacharjee)

“I have seen fishmongers in Behrampore using cloth bags. We are trying to procure such bags and offer them as alternatives to plastic to the shopkeepers. It would be best if shoppers carry their own bags,” said Alok Kumar Das, the secretary of the the association.

The association has declared that henceforth, pedlars and street vendors carrying single-use plastic bags would not be allowed to enter the block. Binay Paley, a worker at Mahaprabhu Sweets located in the block, said: “Despite the fact that plastic bags are cheaper and more profitable for us, considering the harm they do to the environment, we have discarded them and are using eco-friendly cloth bags.”

“It has been proven that plastic bags under 50 microns in thickness are neither biodegradable nor recycle-able. The polymers present in them are harmful for human health and can prove disastrous when used over a long period of time,” said Amarnath Ghosh, cardiac surgeon at a well-known private hospital, who is also a resident of the block. 

The association plans to organise a seminar to discuss the issue with A.K. Sanyal, the chairman of the West Bengal Biodiversity Board, and other eminent speakers, and continue the propaganda by distributing sample cloth bags among people. 

“This is just the beginning,” said secretary Das. “We shall do everything in our power to succeed in this mission against plastic pollution.”

Subarna Koley