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Plastic bags choke drains in Kolkata                  

The roads of Kolkata flooded with rain water.
It has been in waist deep water for 24 hours and more, and relief boats were seen plying up and down with drinking water and foodstuff for the people stranded there. 


    KOLKATA, 6 Jul 2007: Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) is struggling to flush out rainwater from drainage channels. For, plastic bags thrown with impunity notwithstanding the ban on their use has choked drains across the city. 
  KMC has not been able to clean up the entire waste generated due to the heavy showers. With 2,800 metric tonne waste disposed of daily, the situation could pose a real threat in 
the coming weeks. The management of plastic bags has always been a problem for the city as civic bodies do not have any system of collecting plastic waste. According to municipality rules, waste should be collected separately as bio-degradable and non bio-degradable. 
  "A chain must involve collection, segregation, transportation, treatment and re-use. If this breaks, it is natural that drains would stop functioning," said an environment department official. But waste is not collected this way According to the official, management of plastic waste has been ignored. 
  The state has formed a Plastic Management Committee (PMC) and a plastic bag less than 40 microns thickness or those smaller than 12 inch by 16 inch have been banned. Biswajit Mukherjee, member-secretary of the committee, said it is worrying that the ill-management of plastic waste is clogging the drains. "If the plastic is not separated, then these would clog sewerlines," the official said. 
  Chandana Ghoshdastidar, member mayor-in-council claimed that despite the heavy showers, 2,200 metric tonne waste was collected on Wednesday. She said the segregation of bio-degradable and non-biodegradable waste is not done in most parts of the country. 
  Writer:   Swati Sengupta 
  Source: The Times of India, Updated: 7 July, 2007 
  The Bengal government banned plastic bags whose thickness is less than 40 microns and which are smaller than 12"x16". Very few, save perhaps those who had drafted the notification, have been aware of this ban all these years. Earlier this week, all of a sudden, the state machinery woke up to the fact that the ban is being flouted openly. And it came out with another notification laying down stiff penalties for disobeying the first notification. Offenders (those who sell, hand out or carry the banned plastic bags) so we hear, will be fined Rs one lakh and/or thrown into prisons for five years! ... the fact that these two notifications were issued shows that the government is not at all serious in tackling the plastic menace. Because, there's only one way to tackle this hazard, and that's by banning the manufacture of plastic bags below 40 micron thickness or smaller than the minimum size laid down (I'd be tempted to ask how plastic bags measuring less than 12"x16" are more hazardous than those measuring 11"x15" or 13"x17", but that's another matter). That would be much easier to implement. Manufacturers of plastic bags could be issued strict warnings and threatened with revocation of their licences if they violate the size/thickness conditions. That would have made sense and would have ensured, at least to a large extent, that smaller and thinner plastic bags don't clog our drains and sewers. 
 Writer:  Jaideep Mazumdar  
 Source: Kolkata Korner : outlookindia.com



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