Pune: Dehu is a pilgrim centre located 35 kilometres from Pune. The Dehu Gram Panchayat, its residents, and shopkeepers have resolved to avoid the use of plastic for any purpose. They have unanimously decided to use paper and cloth bags. The Gram Panchayat, along with the Sant Tukaram Maharaj Sansthan, will advise the dindi pramukhs (heads of groups of warkaris) during the annual palkhi procession to Pandharpur, to avoid the use of thermocol and plastic products.
Deputy Sarpanch Santosh Hagawane said, "We decided to bring in a change and have launched a plastic-free awareness drive in Dehu. We have also raised banners to educate people. A month's time was given to all residents to stop using plastic bags below 50 microns. We also imposed a fine on those who sell or purchase plastic bags, or any other plastic products below 50 microns. Around Rs 10,000 fine has been collected from vendors and residents."
"After the implementation of the resolution, there has been 80 per cent decrease in the use of plastic. Vendors and residents are now using cloth or paper bags only. Also, there has been a reduction in plastic waste in the garbage. Earlier, waste pickers used to collect five trolleys of plastic waste. Now, only two trolleys are collected," Hagawane said.
Kapil Raul, owner of Shri Sai Shraddha Medical Shop, said that plastic bags were much cheaper than cloth and paper bags. Also, plastic bags were available anywhere, but cloth bags need to be purchased from outside Dehu.
Tukaram Shinde, a resident, said, "Plastic used to get accumulated across the village. Now, the problem is much less."
- Deputy Sarpanch Hagawane said, "In weekly markets, which are held on Tuesdays and Fridays in Dehu, over 2,000 people gather. We used to notice that villagers used to carry three to four plastic bags, which were eventually thrown away after use. This was causing pollution. Animals used to eat plastic."
- Abhijit Kand, owner of Kand Patil Restaurant, at Dehu, said, "We are supporting the cause but we cannot stop the use of plastic entirely, as paper bags cannot be used for all purposes. So, we are using plastic carry bags above 50 microns."