Ever since Governments and legal authorities realized the health and environmental hazards that plastic use poses on humans and animals alike, necessary steps were taken for ensuring its ban all over the country. The government of West Bengal too realized this soon enough after which guidelines were issued which stated that shoppers purchasing their daily necessities from the market will be required to carry their own bags, very similar to the practice till the first half of the 1990s when the use of Plastic was not so prevalent. The health authorities of West Bengal soon realized what trouble plastic waste has caused to our beloved state by clogging gully pits, choking drainage systems, leading to waterlogging across various cities.
A research conducted by the Ministry of Environment and Forest showed that about 20,000 tonnes of plastic waste was generated on an everyday basis in our country, out of which only approximately 13,000-14,000 tonnes is being collected. Efforts were made all over Kolkata to raise awareness and the Kolkata Municipal Corporation tried it’s best to change the behavior of residents. October onwards, all shopkeepers in every market were made to dispose of the use of single-use plastic like polybags, plastic straws, plastic bottles, pouch, and polystyrene products like cutlery and glasses. Even local Trinamool Congress workers (the leading political party in West Bengal) were asked to pitch in along with local policemen and councilors to ensure the shopkeepers comply with the ban. Shopkeepers and street vendors were warned of a fine of ₹500 for non-cooperation and non-compliance with the ban. The Kolkata municipal corporation department officials were urging customers to return to old habits of carrying purchasing bags or Bamboo straw baskets for carrying non-vegetarian products. The state pollution control board chairman Kalyan Rudra also stated that the ban on the use of plastic bags below 50 microns has been in operation since 2016 but it was never enforced strictly. He promised that the KMC and pollution control board will do so now with zeal and seriousness.
It is safe to say that the use of plastic has declined drastically from 2019. Shopkeepers tend not to handover products to customers in plastic bags. Most of them even refuse when asked to and that shows how times have changed. It not only shows the love they have for the city but for the country as a whole. However, there are still people who prefer to use polythene for carrying products as small as milk packets. but we must realize that reaching out to lakhs of people within a year is not an easy task. Slowly but steadily people are becoming more and more responsible and at the end of the day that’s what matters.