Use of single-use plastic materials has surfaced in the city due to a let-up in enforcement of the ban imposed by the State government early last year.
The government had banned the use and sale of plastic carry bags, cups and plates, plastic straws and plastic flags from January 2019. The ban meant that sale, manufacture and storage of the banned plastic items was an offence.
Immediately after the ban was imposed, officials used to carry out frequent raids on stockists, dealers, shopkeepers, manufacturers and retail merchants. The strong enforcement effectively prevented the use of single-use plastics to a substantial extent. With the support of line departments, the Tiruchi Corporation and the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board officials used to conduct raids at regular intervals, forcing people to use cloth bags to buy vegetables, groceries and other essential items. But, now, a number of shopkeepers, especially street vendors and hawkers, could be seen using the banned single-use plastic carry bags. The people, too, choose to use plastic bags for buying vegetables and fruits.
"A section of customers still demand carry bags to carry fruits. If I refuse, they go to other vendors. Each and every customer is important for me. I am forced to buy carry bags to pack fruits," says a hawker on Thillai Nagar.
The practice of taking along carry bags could be curbed in totality only if it is not available in the market. The current situation is that the stockists and dealers have the 'use and throw' plastic bags in plenty.
N. Jamaludeen, a consumer activist in Tiruchi, said accumulation of plastic waste on street corners and thickly populated areas was quite evident. Token raids on stockists and shopkeepers could not eradicate the menace. A time-bound action was required to effectively control the use of carry bags, he said
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