The move to impose plastic ban in Bara Bazar in Shillong, Meghalaya was initiated to promote the use of ‘Sla’ (leaves), which is popularly used by the locals in the state Credit: EastMojo image

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Shillong: In a bid to combat plastic menace in Shillong, the Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council (KHADC) recently decided to declare the oldest traditional market in Meghalaya, and probably across the Northeast — Bara Bazar — a ‘no plastic zone’.

Although the move is welcome news, it may not not go down well with a section of the people, especially meat-sellers and fishmongers, in the market locally known as ‘Iewduh’.

Being the main source of daily essentials, be it vegetables, clothes, meat, household items and almost every grocery purchase, Iewduh came under the scanner of the authorities concerned, when it came to tackling the menace of plastic pollution.

Also, the decision taken during a meet chaired by the executive member in-charge of trade, KHADC, Paul Lyngdoh, earlier last month was initiated to promote the use of ‘Sla’ (leaves), which is popularly used by the locals in the state.

So far, so good. However, the question now arises: Will the ban be successful? Will the government not face any backlash? Will the people of the state work hand in hand with the government?

To get a clearer picture, EastMojo headed to the section where plastic bags are the most essential requirement when they sell their products — meat. Being a ‘wet’ product, it is difficult to be wrapped in ‘sla’ leaves or newspapers. In cases where meat is sold in bigger quantities, it gets too heavy to be carried; hence the need for polythene bags.

“It is a challenge for us because what we sell can’t be packed in leaves. We would request the government to come up with an alternative wherein it’s a win-win situation for us and the customers,” says Beautymai Syiem, a meat-seller in Iewduh market.

Also Read: Meghalaya: First public meet on ‘No Plastic Zone’ held at Iewduh

She further said, “What’s more challenging is that the customers don’t accept the meat sold to them packed in a single plastic bag. They often tell us to pack it in two bags so that it doesn’t drip water or blood. We’ve even requested customers to help us out by bringing containers from home, but they complain that it’s not a simple task. Since most customers would ideally come to the market after work, hence they find it a challenge to carry containers to work.”

Although mixed reactions were seen among the sellers, a few lauded the government for the move to save the environment while a few were worried about how they would run their business.

“It is better that they ban plastic, because it hampers the environment. Even though this declaration isn’t new, as in the past they had come up with similar bans, I feel that it will be beneficial for all of us and save the environment in so many ways,” said one of the daily customers in Iewduh.

The consequences for selling plastic in Iewduh market will definitely be major. Shopkeepers might end up paying the price if caught violating the norms — as the violation might even lead to cancellation of trading licences.

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