A walk around Kathmandu Valley is enough to show how ineffective government authorities have been in enforcing the ban on the use of plastic bags. Almost all shops in the Valley, from a corner grocery to a wholesaler, use all kinds of plastic bags openly. Even the fruit and vegetable sellers are found to be handing out their products to customers in plastic bags.
Rabin Maharjan, a vegetable and fruit seller in Gyaneshwar, said he has been using plastic bags in lack of any other affordable alternatives. Maharjan said that the only time he doesn’t provide plastic bags to customers is when they bring their own bags. “It seems like the use of plastic bags isn’t banned in Kathmandu at all as its use and availability is ubiquitous. I am ready to follow the government rules if I am provided some alternatives,” said Maharjan.
Similarly, Shyam Bhattarai, who runs a hardware shop in Naxal, said that he has no immediate plans to stop using plastic bags. “Although we were told that the use of plastic bags is illegal, we continue to get them easily. Unless government takes stern action against users and provides options, use of plastic bags will continue,” he said.
The use of plastic bags is rampant in Kathmandu Valley despite a ban imposed by the government nine months ago.
Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment (MoSTE) prohibited the use of plastic bags up to 20×35 inches and plastic bags up to 40 microns thickness inside the Valley. However, the ban remains ineffective despite a hefty penalty for using it.
Shankar Poudel, a senior divisional chemist at the Department of Environment (DoE), said that plastic bags were openly found in the Kathmandu Valley as the authorities have not been able to confiscate the bags produced by unregistered factories.
Poudel cited lack of fuel as the reason behind the authorities’ failure to conduct monitoring.
Under the Environment Act, registered plastic bag factories will be slapped a penalty of up to Rs 50,000 if they are found producing plastic bags.
Department of Cottage and Small Scale Industries (DoCSI) informed that they haven’t issued permits for a new plastic bag manufacturer since the ban came into effect. He even claimed that the plastic bags in use in the Valley were either from the old stocks or the existing plastic manufacturers.