BMC intensifies crackdown on use of polythene, plastic bags

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Bhubaneswar: Polythene and plastic bag users beware! Apart from the two Central Squads, now the Zonal Deputy Commissioners (ZDCs) of Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) will also conduct raids to check illegal use of the banned materials.

As per the direction of BMC Commissioner, all ZDCs will do plastic ban enforcement making at least two squads in their respective zones on every Wednesday from 8 am to 2 pm with the help of local police.

The ZDCs will start their local squads right from tomorrow. There are three ZDCs under BMC, namely in North, South-East and South-West regions.

Sources said emphasis would be given on fish and meat markets, fruit markets and eateries. Under plastic enforcement activities, seizure of banned items, the imposition of fines, issuing showcase notice etc shall be taken up by the zonal squads.

The two central squads under BMC have so far collected a fine of more than Rs 40,000 and seized polythene/plastics amounting to more than three quintals from various markets, small business establishments and malls.

“We are also planning to impart awareness among president and secretaries of big market areas, some wholesale businessmen by calling them to BMC for attending training programme to be conducted next week. There, our experts will explain and demonstrate which  are banned and which are non banned plastics in order to eliminate confusion,’’ said BMC Deputy Commissioner Prabir Khillar, Nodal Officer for Polythene/Plastic Enforcement.

In view of implementation of plastic/polythene enforcement within the area of BMC two enforcement squads were constituted by the civic body on June 6 comprising officials of the State Pollution Control Board, Commissionerate Police, Forest Department and BMC. The two enforcement squads also did pre-ban announcements on June 5. The squads are being assisted by policemen/women during the raids.

It can be mentioned here that the State Government had decided to restrict the indiscriminate use of certain types of plastic products in the territorial jurisdiction of five municipal corporations like Bhubaneswar, Cuttack, Berhampur, Rourkela and Sambalpur and in famous place of pilgrimage and tourist destination Puri municipality with effect from the 2nd October, last year.

The reason behind the ban on polythene and plastics below the prescribed limits (50 micron) is due to the fact that the plastics are non-biodegradable and cause threat to the ecological system. They reduce the fertility of soil and hamper growth of plants, choke drains and sewer resulting in overflowing gutters and if swallowed by cattle, may cause death by obstructing their intestine.

Secondly, the colour pigments used in polythene/plastics contaminate food products wrapped in them and cause health hazards and some are even carcinogenic. While plastic products take hundreds of years for degradation, as they are not biodegradable like paper bags, they also block the rainwater infiltrating into the soil hindering recharge of groundwater.

Most importantly the plastic bags when discarded can get filled with rainwater offering ideal breeding ground for vector-borne diseases like malaria and burning of plastics also releases most carcinogenic and toxic substances like dioxins, furans and hydrogen cyanide, which pollute air as well as cause severe and chronic health problems.

The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change have made the Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016 under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 restricting the use of certain plastic carry bags and containers and its management.

City-based environmentalist Bijay Mishra however, of the opinion that Industries and MSME Departments should also take proactive steps to identify the plastic manufacturers inside and in peripheral areas of Bhubaneswar so as to lock up and seal the illegal units manufacturing polythene.

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