Plastics ban: Mumbai locality's lessons for India

A Bombay municipal corporator shows the way in implementing ban on plastic bags

grvora

G R Vora | May 11, 2010


Now, residents caryy home vegetables only in paper bags
Now, residents caryy home vegetables only in paper bags

Last Saturday, I got the opportunity to observe the “Zero Plastic Bag” campaign at Vile Parle that I had only read about or seen in the print and electronic media.
 
The initiator of this revolution is the BMC’s Officer on Special Duty – Mr. Subhash Dalvi, who is himself a resident of Vile Parle. As a citizen he thought of bringing about a change first in his own backyard. Vile Parle East area is home to hundreds of hawkers who squat on the footpaths and even roads of Nehru Road, M G Road and Mungibai Roads.

Mr Subhash Dalvi and I took a round of these roads today between 6:30 – 8 pm. I was pleasantly surprised to see one hawker after another selling their goods (fruits, vegetables, sweets, spices, flowers etc.) wrapped in either paper bags or newspapers. Hardly any hawker gave a thin plastic “jhabla” bag.  Many of the hawkers had the BMC’s “No Plastic Bag” campaign leaflet displayed prominently at their “shops”.  Many had even kept cloth bags hands to be sold to customers who had not brought along their own bags to carry away the items.  The bags were priced between the range of Rs. 3 (for the simple cotton bag) to Rs. 20 (for thicker, water-proof and larger bag).

How could Mr Subhash Dalvi bring about this transformation ?  It was sheer hard work, fuelled by his dedication and care for the environment, he said.  Regularly, since the past one year, Mr Dalvi has interacted with the hawkers, understood their problems, their psychology, their micro-economics in using “Jhabla” bags so far, convenience of customers etc. He went about offering them alternatives like cheap paper bags, newspapers, butter-paper bags, washable and reusable cloth bags at cheap rates. Convincing them about the need to save our environment.  It was not a cake-walk, he confesses.  It was constant cajoling, convincing, building relationships, his own honesty and moral pressure which he exerted upon the hawkers and shop keepers that he could achieve whatever he did.  

Now we find even the Grade II hotels in the vicinity using paper bags for giving food “parcels”.  He knows most of the hawkers, shop keeper and hotel owners by their first names.  All have respect for him and are happy that they are using alternative means of packaging their goods while selling.  One chilli-ginger seller has even bought a “Tempo” for buying and selling his vegetables from the money that he has saved by changing over from buying plastic bags and using paper bags.  Amazing. !

My best wishes to Mr Subhash Dalvi. I hope Mr Dalvi gets all the support from his superiors in the Corporation, the hawkers and the residents to fulfill his dream of having “Zero Plastic Bags” in Mumbai by the year 2012.

 

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