At a formal function the pilo project was formally inaugurated by Shri Debashis Sen, IAS, Chairman, HIDCO and NKDA and Shri Animesh Bhattacharya , CEO, NKDA in presence of Shri Sourav Mukherjee, President of Kolkata Society For Cultural Heritage.
Speaking on the launch of the pilot project on India’s first plastic free market in New Town, Shri Debashis Sen , IAS, CMD, WBHIDCO, chairman, NKDA said , “We have started today the plastic free project in CB Market today . We are undertaking three drives simultaneously – solid waste segregation, plastic free CB market and covid related precaution. Kolkata Society For Cultural Heritage will continue this project for next 2 years. We had earlier also undertaken such drive but this pilot project covers 360 degree aspect and in that way it is the first of kind project in India. We are undertaking home to home awareness drive and also supplying alternatives to plastic to shopkeepers. I hope Kolkata Society For Cultural Heritage will maintain this chain of demand and supply in a seamless manner”.
The representatives of KSCH has undertaken a two year long project to eradicate the usage of plastic carry bags from CB Market. KSCH will distribute 2 cloth bags initially to all families under the purview of the project and biodegradable plastic packet derived from vegetable starch . . Degradable Plastic Carry bags (Plastic made with vegetable starch), biodegradable plastic packets will be used by the residents to shop non vegetarian items . KSCH will also distribute Paper Bags(thongas) for grocery items and clay pots will be used for sweets.
“Biodegradable plastics are plastics that can be decomposed by the action of living organisms, usually microbes, into water, carbon dioxide, and biomass. Biodegradable plastics are commonly produced with renewable raw materials, micro-organisms, petrochemicals, or combinations of all three. We have done a long survey to find alternative to plastic for this and zeroed in on vegetable starch plastic “, said Sourav Mukherjee
Since Plastic is the ubiquitous container being used by all and sundry in Kolkata despite its ill effects on environment, it was imperative to find out alternative to Plastic. Kolkata Society For Cultural Heritage in consultation with HIDCO Chairman and CEO, NKDA brainstormed and found alternatives like cloth bags, paper bags (thongas), clay containers and biodegradable plastic carry bags which is extracted from vegetable starch. A team of chief officials of NKDA, under the leadership of Chairman visited Central Insittute of Petrochemicals engineering and Technology in Haldia to explore the options for plastic. Following the visit the authorities held a meeting with officials.
These plastic alternatives are expensive than plastic. But the shop owners under this project will buy those options at the price of plastic as they are paying now and the NKDA Smart City project will bear the additional cost as subsidy. By the next two years KSCH will pave the way for sustainability of this project.
KSCH had already conducted a three month long survey in the designated CB Market covering 29 market shop owners and street vendors adjacent to the CB Market, under the imperative of HIDCO- NKDA. The activities include Market survey , Area study , Need analysis , Alternative selection, Project area mapping and the Strategy. In the first phase we conducted Market survey an Area study.
“We will create awareness drive across the blocks to motivate residents to use alternative to plastic. We will also recognize those shop owners and residents using alternatives by presenting green badges and cutting cakes for them. Their photos will be incorporated in ‘Hall of Fame and their names will be announced on New Town Radio”, said Sourav Mukherjee, President, Kolkata Society for Cultural Heritage(KSCH).
KSCH had employed 8 volunteers to conduct a thorough survey among shop owners in CB Market this year on 5th January. “We did direct survey with 29 shop owners. Monthly figures are being calculated based on the assumption of each shop owner and verbal discussion with each shop owner. We considered the demands of the residents and population of CA, CB, CC, CD and Shankalpa 3 & 4. Total 2,313 families are residing in these blocks under Action Area 1C. 32% buyers were from other areas. So there is an urgent need for creating awareness about the stoppage of plastic carry bags. But we also needed to give them an economically viable alternative user friendly container for the residents. This is true that a large chunk of people still use plastic containers, as these are for free and these are easy to use.
“However, our target is to make the project sustainable by 11 months and convert the market into a sustainable one creating history. We have suggested following alternatives to plastic”, signed off Sourav Mukherjee,
The most important phase of the campaign is to change the mindset of the residents and customers. We will conduct door to door awareness programs for 2,313 families and also cover shopkeepers and the customers. The monitoring is another key part of the project.”
KSCH will deploy 6 resources in two shifts on a 24×7 basis to conduct the monitoring of the market to prevent the use of plastic and supply the alternatives. There is a committee set by the NKDA and HIDCO who would conduct the review on the monitoring on a regular basis.