Team Swachh Bharat Mission Grameen (SBM-G) in Madurai of Tamil Nadu organized a coordinated one hour plastic raid in shops of all the 420 village panchayats, searching over 2500 shops on 24th October, 2019. The teams levied a nominal fine of Rs.100 each for over 700 shops that were found possessing the banned single use plastic items.
The surprise raid was carried out by about 40 district and block officials across the district who checked shops for single use plastics between 10 and 11 am.
“The purpose of the ‘nudge philosophy’ exercise was not to threaten people or collect money but to raise awareness on the need to curb use of plastics, particularly single use plastic,” said Additional Collector, Madurai, Ms. Priyanka B.
Although the small vendors and shop keepers were not given notice of the raid, they cooperated and paid the fine of Rs. 100 good naturedly. They are aware that a plastic ban has been in effect in Tamil Nadu for a few months now.
Ahead of Deepavali, the shops were fully stocked on produce and wrappings to pack the same. Hence the surprise raid was timely, to make people take notice.
The AC is hopeful that shopkeepers would look for alternatives, switch from plastics and get back to their former cheaper and eco-friendly practice of wrapping provisions in newspaper folded into the shape of a cone and secured with jute thread.
At the same time, the public visiting the shops would know that they would have to take alternatives with them to carry their products, in the absence of plastic bags.
While this exercise was the first, more such raids will be carried out and the fine would be gradually increased, to keep people vigilant about curbing plastic use.
The district administration plans to hold an exhibition shortly on alternatives to plastic in the rural areas, Ms. Priyanka said.