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Issue 20
December , 2009
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Campaign against menace

Source: Daily News & Analysis (DNA), Mumbai, Date: November , 2009

Plastic bags are non bio-degradable. So when they are thrown away, they create a problem that lasts for many years. Municipal officials have regularly found and reported about how drains have been clogged with discarded plastic bags. They retard flow in sewage pipes and create stagnant water which breed disease-spreading mosquitoes. Flimsy plastic carrybags, that have come to symbolise an environmental hazard, are an offshoot of the growing and reckless consumption symbolised by shopping malls and arcades. Plastic bags found in the sea and along the coastline and mangroves have already caused immeasurable damage to marine flora and fauna. Hundreds of polythene bags containing flowers and offerings to deities are strewn across Mumbai's beaches everyday. The bags along with other waste, find a permanent resting place in the sea. They get deposited at unfortunately disposal of plastic bags is not an easy task. Only a few rag pickers actually find it economical to pick up plastic bags and trade them with scrap dealers. Plastic bags cannot be continuously recycled. Incinerating or burning results in air pollution and release of toxic ash in the atmosphere. Several school children were involved in cleaning sea fronts in the city. However groups initiating this turned out to be disparate and there were no sustained efforts to rid the city of bags. After the awareness campaigns, only a few citizens switched over to cloth bags. In Mumbai, many shops are back to giving away the banned plastic bags. Non-plastic alternatives, such as cloth and newspaper bags need multi-pronged promotion, economic incentives, mass awareness and legislation by the authorities.

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