Two years after plastic ban, enforcement remains troublesome

The ban on plastic remains the toughest to enforce in Bengaluru with products flooding the local market from across the state borders despite the shutdown of manufacturing units.

The ban has rendered over 75,000 workers in Bengaluru unemployed and led to the closure of 2,800 units that produced nearly five tonnes of bags, package materials and cups.

With GST implementation, however, check posts opened up and plastic products began pouring in from Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra.

"There's no checking at check posts, especially after the GST implementation. Plastic must be checked and curtailed. Plastic coming to Bengaluru and other parts of Karnataka is from neighbouring states where there's no ban on it. We feel cheated since plastic use continues despite the shutting down of local units," said Suresh N Sagar, general secretary, Karnataka State Plastic Association.

Veterinarians from the Institute of Animal Health and Veterinary Biologicals (IAH&VB) recently found 10 kilograms of plastic in the stomach and intestines of a stray cow when they conducted a post-mortem on its carcass.

A pathologist said plastic was found in over 90% of the cattle post-mortems, only the quantity varies.

On October 28, 2015, the Department of Environment, Forest and Ecology issued a draft notification to ban usage of plastic bags, plates, spoons, banners, flexes, bunts, cups and microbeads. The state government enforced the ban on March 11, 2016, following a detailed cabinet discussion and a series of government meetings.

However, when it comes to banning flex banners, buntings and other display materials, the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board and the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike are at loggerheads. While he KSPCB says the onus is on municipal administrations, the BBMP blames the board for being too lethargic.

A senior KSPCB official admitted that plastic banners and flexes were being recklessly used by politicians and party workers. "It is for the local administration to keep a check, but all are quiet because of elections. Politicians who got the rule enforced to showcase a clean and green city have now forgotten it," said the official.

The KSPCB has no record of the amount of plastic waste generated on a daily basis. The BBMP says at least 4,000 metric tonnes of waste is generated in Bengaluru every day of which 40% is plastic alone. In 90% of the cases, however, the plastic waste is not segregated at source. 

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