A customer holds a plastic bag containing chai as another drinks chai from a glass at a roadside stall in Mumbai, India. (Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg)

Maharashtra Plastic Ban: Kirana Stores Claim 50% Sales Decline

The state-wide plastic ban, which came into effect from June 22, has led to a 50 percent decline in businesses due to lack of packaging alternatives, according to the Federation of Retail Traders Welfare Association.

“The plastic ban has led to a big loss of business at the over 3 lakh kirana (mom and pop) stores across Maharashtra. Business is down by 50 percent,” the association’s President Viren Shah said.

The Retailers Association of India blamed the situation on the prevailing confusion in the market, as the state administration is yet to clear a few doubts about what type of plastic bags are allowed.

An advisory committee headed by Praveen Pardesi, additional chief secretary to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, had on June 20 allowed some relaxation in plastic packing at retail level, with non-woven carry bags being allowed as an alternative to plastic bags of 60 gsm, the Retailers Association of India said.

Also read: Maharashtra Eases Plastic Ban On Bottles But With Recycling Rider 

“But, the same report has not been cleared yet, and there is still confusion,” Kumar Rajagopalan from the Retailers Association of India said. He indicated that while the committee had sought inputs from retailers, the ban had been implemented without incorporating the minutes of the meeting, and that would cause a lot of chaos.

The government said a person who carries a single-use non-recyclable plastic item, will face a fine of Rs 5,000 for the first violation and double that amount on violating the rule a second time. Repeating the offence a third time would cost Rs. 25,000.

Fearing penalties, over 2,000 mom and pop shops have closed in the state and thus business has suffered badly, Shah claimed. Thousands of perishables have also been wasted, as sale of juices, milk and curd has dropped by 25 percent, he added.

"Business has been hit due to the fear of heavy penalty charges and the removal of food packed in plastic and other products in cities including Pune, Nagpur and Nashik as well," Shah said.

Also read: Penalty, Jail And More: How Mumbai Will Enforce The Plastic Ban

Watch this interview with Viren Shah, president of the Federation of Retail Traders Welfare Association.