Gazi Moniruzzaman, Khulna

 Polythene shopping bags, banned 17 years ago, are still widely used at different kitchen markets of Khulna city contributing to the alarming environment pollution in the divisional city.

Besides, wide use of the banned item is going on unabatedly also at kitchen markets of all upazilas and unions of the district.

. The resurgence of polythene bags is blamed on a lack of effective drive by law enforcers to implement the ban on the environmentally harmful substance.

 A section of polythene manufacturers, in support with some dishonest traders, are supplying environmentally hazardous polythene bags to the shopkeepers at low price at different kitchen and fish markets of remote villages’ in Khulna district.

In 2002, government banned both production and use of ‘thin’ polythene bags of the types that are still widely found in shops and markets throughout the country.

Abdus Sabed, a grocery shop owner of Ghugrakati bazaar under Koyra thana told this correspondent that he prefer using polythene shopping bags as they are cheap. A polythene shopping bag costs Tk 1 to Tk 2 whereas a jute or cloth bag sells at Tk 5 to Tk 12.

Vegetables, spice and fish traders shared that they find it very difficult to sell kitchen items without polythene shopping bags as most of the customers come to the market without shopping bags. Polythene bags are now mostly used in packing dry food items like Chanachur, biscuits and other items.

Although the use of polythene bags is a punishable offence, the concerned authorities do not take any measure to stop the sale and use of these bags in the village markets of the district. Polythene bags are also available in the main markets of the city centre.

Sources said that the law prohibits the use of polythene bags with thickness less than 35 mili-microns for inner liner, less than 50 mili-microns for packing fish, and less than 55 mili-microns for packing other goods.

However, such differences go over the head of both the police and the general public. “It is difficult for the police to know which varieties of polythene bags are banned and which are approved. We need a technical adviser on this issue”, said Superintendent of Police (SP) of Khulna district SM Shafiullah.

Mahfuzur Rahman Mukul, coordinator of Khulna divisional unit environmental pressure group Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (BELA), told ‘Bangladesh Post’ that polythene bags are seriously polluting our environment. Biodiversity is facing grave danger. Polythene bags are also responsible for disrupting the water drainage system in Khulna city. During the rainy season, the problem gets worse as polythene and plastic products block the drainage system, causing water logging.

He stressed the need for creating awareness among the people regarding the harmful impact of poly bags on the environment. Mukul urged the authorities concerned to take strict measures against the manufacturers, sellers and users of polythene shopping bags. “A typical poly bags takes years to decompose, and has residual affects on the surrounding bio-diversity of the region. Hence, the use of poly bags may be disastrous for the public in generations to come,” warned the specialist.