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Ban on poly-bag unlikely to succeed in want of alternatives

NIRJANA SHARMA

KATHMANDU, May 29: The Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC) is set to impose a ban on the use of polythene bags in the capital from mid-June. But unless there´s an easily available alternative to the poly-bags, the ban is unlikely to succeed.

As per the Nepal Plastic Manufacturers´ Association (NPMA), more than 40 plastic industries produce 50 tons of poly-bags every day in the Valley. The demand across the country crosses 300 tons on a daily basis, whereas the manufacturers of polythene bags pay Rs 600 million in taxes to the government every year.

To discourage the use of plastic bags, the KMC has placed an order with a company to supply 21,000 environment-friendly bags before the mid-June deadline. The administrative officer of the Environment Division of the KMC Ganesh Thapaliya said that the company has already supplied 14,000 bags and additional 7,000 pieces would be delivered in few days.

The metropolis, however, has yet to decide whether to sell the bags to the shopkeepers or distribute them free of cost just for raising awareness, said Thapaliya.

In such a situation, even the proponents of poly bag prohibition are doubtful of the KMC´s success in implementing the program effectively. The non-government organizations which are already working on restricting the plastic bag say the metropolis needs to realize that no campaign can be successful until all stakeholders come together.

Pradip Khatiwata, chief of Force Nepal, the organization that successfully restricted the use of polythene bags at Sali River, Sakhu during a month long Swasthani Puja last year, said that the KMC officials brushed him off when he met them to show his organization´s willingness to coordinate in their effort to curb the use of plastic bags.

On the other hand, the companies that produce non-polythene bags in the Valley said that the metropolis has not asked them to increase the production though the ban has been scheduled.

The companies are not eager to supply environment-friendly bags to the market as the awareness level is still very low among people about the benefits of such bags and they may not be willing to pay Rs 30 to Rs 65 to purchase such bags, said Damodar Acharya, director of Saugat Enterprises.

The government needs to provide subsidies to the manufacturers of such bags so that they can make the products available at reasonable price in market, he claimed. The company had won the bid for supplying environment-friendly bags to the KMC in November.

“There is limited demand of fiber, nylon or paper bags since the people are not habituated to carry them all the time,” said Acharya.
The customers turn to another shop if she does not provide them polythene bags to carry vegetables, says Gita Ale Magar, who runs a vegetable shop at New Baneshwar. She hardly believes that the reusable bags could replace the poly-bags so soon.

Action against violators defined vaguely

The Solid Waste Management Act, 2011, states that Rs 500 can be fined to an individual using poly-bag and Rs 1000 to the producers once a ban is imposed at a particular municipality. However, the Chief of KMC Environment Division Rabin Man Shrestha said that the KMC would not take action till one month after the prohibition comes into force. The KMC council would decide the punishment, he said.

Meanwhile, the Hamri Bahini Shopping Bag project under the Himalayan Climate Initiative (HCI) is working to make people habituated to using the environment-friendly bags made of jute, paper and newspapers, said Prashanta Singh, founder and CEO of the HCI. Around 30,000 shopping bags have been supplied to all five branches in the Valley.

“The ban would be impracticable unless people have alternatives,” he said.
The KMC on July 2011 declared ban on poly-bag less than 20 microns aiming to make the city poly-bag free within two years. In 2000, the then mayor of Kathmandu Keshav Sthapit had attempted to ban the plastic bags which could not be formulated following a mandamus issued by the Supreme Court to first prove the hazards of plastic on human beings and environment. The apex court was responding to a writ filed by a plastic manufacturer.

Meanwhile, the plastic bag producers are confident that the KMC´s move would not succeed again. NPMA Chairman Shailendra Lal Pradhan said the government should focus on managing the right use of plastic which would be more reasonable rather than putting a complete ban.
“Even medicines if not used properly cause harm,” said Pradhan. “Plastic production will continue to rise based on demand from public.”

Source: Republica Daily

Link: http://www.myrepublica.com/portal/index.php?action=news_details&news_id=55404

Published on 2013-05-30 01:29:30
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About nirjanasharma

Nepali Journalist.

One response »

  1. When I don’t have an proposal to weblog, I cleanup my folders in my PC and do defragmentation in my machine…

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