Mumbai, (The Hindu): On Tuesday, the fourth day of the plastic ban, the stores of wholesalers and retailers in Masjid Bunder plastic market remained shut. The owners are silently hoping that the government would reconsider their decision and give them some respite.
Pravin Shah, owner of Heena Plastics, said, “We asked Environment Minister Ramdas Kadam to provide us with some alternatives or give us a solution to our problems as we are unemployed now. We have written letters to him, but we have not yet received any response. Our shops, which we opened around 40 years ago, are now shut and our employees have been left jobless.”
Mr. Shah said the government implemented the ban in such a sudden, unplanned manner that it did not give them any time to look for alternatives. He said, “Our entire income is based on this business. The plastic manufacturers, distributors and retailers are the worst hit and the government didn’t think about us before enforcing the ban.”
Plastic wholesalers in the market have faced losses ranging from 50,000 to 1,50,000 per day. Each shop employs four to eight workers who earn between 800 and 900 per day. The stores deal mostly in one-time use plastic cutlery and plastic bags. “Two days ago, BMC officials visited the market and warned that we will be fined. We had no other option but to shut our shops,” said Tarachand Chheda, owner of Rushabh Plastic.
Arshad Noorusman, owner of Barkaat Packaging, said, “After the ban, we lost many customers who used plastic for packaging. Exporting plastic material is allowed, but what about the material being sold within the country, especially during the monsoon season? The government hasn’t given us clarity on the ban and the alternatives on offer.”
The Federation of Retail Traders Welfare Association (FRTWA) on Tuesday held a meeting where it was decided to give the government one week’s time to issue a notification that use of primary packaging would be allowed for retail stores with a buyback option.
Plea against harassment
Over 1,500 shopkeepers and traders representing over 150 major associations attended the meet. “Everyone present protested the double standards of the government in the name of saving the environment,” said FRTWA president Viren Shah. He said all shopkeepers demanded that no inspector should harass retailers on using plastic packaging material till the clear notification is issued.
Mr. Shah said, “The government should come out with an alternative that is as strong as plastic and can be used during the monsoon. If any inspector harasses us then we will stand united and close down shops in that area. We will all protest against such Inspector Raj.”
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