Despite efforts by NGOs, ban on the use of plastic bags on the premises of Kadlekai Parishe has not been implemented effectively.
“Parishege banni cheela tanni”, the outcry of the anti-plastic campaign organized by NGOs in Bangalore in Kadlekai Parishe, the annual groundnut festival of Bangalore has fallen flat when one looks at the ground reality. This is because sellers continue to use plastic carry bags in the absence of the implementing authorities’ vigilance.
A seller said, “I use plastic carry bags when the marshals aren’t looking. What if the stock of paper bags distributed in the campaign ends? I don’t want to buy additional paper bags.” Several other sellers agreed, saying that they cannot afford to spend money on carry bags for the sake of the environment.
An anti-plastic campaign was organized by the Solid Waste Management Round Table (SWMRT) at the Basavangudi Kadlekai Parishe. Every year, the festival is organized at the Bull road, near the Bull temple in Basavanagudi.
Aatira, a volunteer with SWMRT said that the campaign mainly includes distributing paper bags to the sellers in the festival. The volunteers along with BBMP marshalls held banners demonstrating “say no to plastics” as they made rounds of the Bull Road in a procession. Vaishnavi, another volunteer with the SWMRT said, “We hope this campaign helps to reduce plastic usage in the city, so that Kadlekai Parishe, one of the most popular festivals of Bangalore is also eco-friendly.”
She said that since plastic bags are cheaper and lightweight, sellers use them widely. “Along with funding from the BBMP (Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagar Palike, all the NGOs involved in the campaign are distributing adequate paper bags to the sellers. If the number of bags distributed via the campaign falls short, they can buy them from the BBMP at only Rs. 1 per bag but cannot use plastic bags.”
Volunteers from all over Bangalore and from the nearby BMS College of Law and Engineering participated in the campaigh, sounding the slogan, “Parishege banni cheela tanni” (Bring your own bag to the festival). Other NGOs partnering for the event were Youth for Parivarthan Adamya Chetana, Beautiful Bharat, Saahas and Citizens Participation Program. Under the campaign, with its catchphrase, “Donate a bag, seed the change” volunteers donated paper and cloth bags to be distributed among buyers.
A student of BMS College of Law participating in the campaign said, “In these festivals, a lot of plastic is generated by means of rampant use of plastic carry bags. Because of the large crowd, the plastic ban is easy to get overlooked.”
Another campaigner, Ananth said, “Groundnut is not a liquid product, so there’s not even a requirement for plastic bags.”
The sellers are under strict monitoring of the BBMP marshals and mostly do not use plastics carry bags. Shekhar, a seller said, “I sold groundnuts in plastic bags the past two days. But, today there’s a strict ban on plastic. So we are selling only in paper bags provided by the campaigners.”
However, plastic bags have not seen complete ban in Kadalkei Parishe. The ban seems to be only on plastics being used as carry bags. There’s no ban on products with plastic packaging or other products made with plastic.
Chandrashekhar R, sub inspector at Basavangudi police station who waspresent at the fair said that the fine for using plastics is Rs. 500. He said that no seller has been fined so far as the distribution of paper bags is not yet complete.
Arvind, executive officer of the organising committee of the festival said that all the sellers have been asked not to use plastic carry bags. “We also request buyers to bring their own cloth bags.”
Gauriamma, a groundnut seller said that most customers who have bought from her did not bring their own carry bags. “Yesterday I packed the groundnut either in plastic or newspaper packets, but today I will be using the paper carry bags only.”
Ashika S.L., sustainability consultant at Deepwoods Green Initiative Ltd. said that anti-plastic campaigns are very useful in spreading awareness about the plastic ban. “Single Use Plastics (SUPs) have numerous harmful effects on our environment as well as human health.”She added that SUPs often end up in landfills, polluting the soil and affecting the flora and fauna. “More such campaigns need to be organized to resist the use plastic carry bags. The public must form a habit to carry their own carry bags or packages.”However, she also said that only campaigns are not sufficient because plastics will continue to be used as long as there’s demand and supply.