On the occasion of World Environment Day on June 5th, New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) launched a decisive campaign to phase out usage of plastic bags under 50 microns in Palika Bazar market in Connaught Place.
Dr. Ramesh Kumar, NDMC Chief Medical Officer: “This campaign is being done to comply with the National Green Tribunal order that all plastic bags below 50 microns are banned, and anyone carrying such bags will be fined. Plastic bags are very harmful to the environment, causing pollution and water logging, which leads to mosquito breeding and diseases like dengue. It is important that we raise shopkeepers’ and customers’ awareness of this problem and motivate them to use other types of bags, like cloth and jute bags. We also need to provide low-cost alternatives to polyethane bags for shopkeepers. We will make sure that this program is not a one-day campaign, but rather a continuous endeavour that results in drastic reduction of plastic bag usage.”
Ms. Rashmi Singh, Secretary, NDMC: “Shopkeepers used to be proud to be a part of Palika Bazar – let’s bring back that pride by saying no to plastic bags. We have to consider our behavior and reduce plastic bag usage in order to save the environment. We are buying plastic bags, using them, and throwing them out, without thinking about the negative impact this practice is having. Let us stop using plastic bags, not only because it is the law, but also because it is beneficial for us and our community.”
Mr. Baljeet Singh Kohli, Chairperson, Palika Bazar Shopkeepers’ Welfare Association: “I pledge that within 3-4 months, we will make this market a plastic free zone.”
According to a survey conducted by Centre for Advocacy Research (CFAR) NGO, in partnership with NDMC, nearly three-quarters of the 400 shops in Palika Bazar are giving polyethane bags to customers. That equates to around 7000 plastic bags distributed daily in the market. CFAR volunteers did a campaign shop-to-shop in the market to gauge shopkeepers’ demand for bags and their willingness to switch to non-plastic bags.
Imran, CFAR volunteer: “I am proud to be part of this campaign to phase out plastic bag usage. In my community in Badarpur, we are drinking dirty water due to lack of proper waste management. I want to do my bit to make sure the plastic waste issue gets resolved and our environment does not continue to get polluted. I enjoyed discussing the campaign with shopkeepers; most supported the initiative, though a few were skeptical about the ban.”
Mr. P.C. Duggl, Palika Bazar (King Lamp Shades) shopkeeper: “I used to give polyethane bags, but when I found out they were bad for the environment, I switched to cloth bags. They are also of better quality, and customers appreciate how they look. In general, I try to avoid giving any bag, instead wrapping the item in newspaper, but if the customer insists, I give a cloth bag. I think other shopkeepers should start following this practice, even though cloth bags are a little more expensive. It is necessary for not only this marketplace, but also for the entire nation.”
To kickstart the campaign, NDMC is providing free cloth bags to Palika Bazar vendors. The campaign will continue over the following months, with NGO network partners such as CFAR promoting cloth bags as an alternative to polyethane.