With a ban on single-use plastic coming into effect from Friday, 'no plastic' posters were seen outside shops in major markets in Delhi including Sarojini Nagar, Lajpat Nagar and Palika Bazaar, and most shopkeepers urged people to use alternatives. A few shopkeepers were, however, seen hesitantly selling items in polythene bags as ''they are still left with some stock'', while traders' bodies took rounds of the Sarojini Nagar market at regular intervals to ensure the protocol is followed.
Most customers were seen without the trademark white Sarojini Nagar polythene bag, but polythene bags were lying on the roads there, and roadside eateries were still serving food in plastic plates, spoons and forks.
Delhi Environment Minister Gopal Rai said the city government will issue warning notices to units found violating the ban on 19 single-use plastic (SUP) items till July 10, and punitive action will be taken thereafter against repeat offenders. Shops in the Sarojini Nagar market had put up laminated posters pronouncing ''Time to say no to plastic -- Fine upto one lakh''.
''We have put up posters and distributed circulars. In the morning, we sent WhatsApp messages to all the shopkeepers to not use single-use plastic. We are also making rounds in the markets,'' said Ashok Randhawa, the president of Sarojini Nagar Mini Market Traders Association. Randhawa said most of the shops are abiding by the protocols. When asked about the eateries still using plastic items, Randhawa said, ''We are trying to convince them.'' At Palika Bazaar, shopkeepers were seen refusing to provide plastic bags to customers. ''Many customers have gone without purchasing items because they did not have carry bags. It is not good for business but we cannot do anything,'' a shopkeeper said.
On August 12 last year, the Union Environment Ministry issued a notification prohibiting the manufacture, import, stocking, distribution, sale and use of identified SUP commodities, including polystyrene and expanded polystyrene, from July 1, 2022. At the Lajpat Nagar market, the shopkeepers claimed they have not been using single use plastic for long. ''We have been using clothes bags for a long time. However, some customers prefer carrying items in a polythene bag rather than a cloth or a paper bag. We have also stopped using other items like plastic glasses and straws,'' said a shopkeeper. Ashwani Marwah, general secretary of the traders' association in Lajpat Nagar, said the shopkeepers have stopped purchasing banned items and tried to finish the stock by June 30. ''Only those shops that are left with the stock might be selling it or using it. However, the majority of them have stopped using SUP,” said Marwah. The Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) had earlier issued strict directions to manufacturers, stockists, suppliers and distributors of SUP items to ensure zero inventory of the banned commodities, including packaging films and plastic cutlery, by June 30.
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