Plastic bags rule in Delhi despite NGT ban
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Plastic bags rule in Delhi despite NGT ban

Even after four months of the NGT order banning plastic carry bags in Delhi, civic authorities are struggling to get the shop owners and street hawkers to cooperate.

Plastic bags rule in Delhi despite NGT ban

Civic authorities in Delhi are struggling to enforce a total ban on plastic carry bags, as ordered by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) four months ago.

Delhi government is charged with the responsibility of enforcing the ban on plastic, but implementation of the ban has to be carried out by the municipal bodies. Sadly, neither the Delhi government nor the municipal corporations could make much headway in checking the use of plastic bags.

The civic authorities insist that they are trying their best.

“We have to think practically. We are doing our best to minimise the use of plastic bags, but it can only be done gradually. We can at best do it step by step. Making the markets free of plastic bags at one go is not an easy task,” said Neema Bhagat, councilor, East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC). “While we focused on big shops to enforce the ban, we also found that it is very difficult to get the hawkers and street vendors from shunning plastic bags,” she said.

Preeti Agrawal, mayor, New Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC), said it was difficult to monitor and regulate road-side vendors. “If we challan and fine them, they express inability to pay the fine. The only thing we can do is to educate them about ills of using plastic bags,” she said.

Santosh Yadav, a senior official in South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC), puts the blame on citizens as well. “The citizens are not cooperating,” he said. "Despite a campaign after the NGT order, the citizens refuse to carry bags with them to markets. Also, the irony is that none of the shopkeepers or hawkers will turn away customers just for a bag,” rued Yadav. "Unless the people support the ban, it will be impossible to make the markets free of plastic bags. We can only create awareness,” he added. 

The NGT had directed the MCDs, the Delhi Pollution Control Board (DPCB) and the Delhi government to enforce the ban strictly. As the experience of the past four months goes, it is easier said than done.

Now, it remains to be seen as to what view the NGT takes over the failure of municipal bodies.