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MUMBAI: Social activist Medha Patkar has defended her opposition to ban on sale of items in plastic and non-biodegradable packings on Central Railway's suburban railway system. Patkar, who has close ties with the West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, met Subodh Jain, General Manager, CR on July 2 to demand revocation of ban of food items sold in non-biodegradable packets. Following the meeting, the CR decided to revoke the ban which was introduced on May 21. Patkar's stand has come under heavy criticism from a section of media and environmentalist as CR had taken the decision to prevent littering on station and tracks. An official said, "All these item are sold in non-biodegradable packing, which then find their way into the drain clogging... Read more...
the drains." Patkar said, "CR had taken the decision in a ad-hoc fashion without taking into confidence the canteen stall operators. Instead, CR should have introduced the ban in gradual fashion over of period of six months to one year. The ban should also cover stalls on main line and railway operated units." She said after the ban even glucose biscuits had disappeared from the stand causing inconvenience to commuters traveling by suburban trains. CR should have held meetings with the manufacturers of these products to convince to them to supply food items in bio-degradable packing before announcing the ban, she added. Patkar said, "The decision to ban these products had led to drop in sale, thus affecting livelihood of many people associated with small enterprise." CR has withdrawn sale of food items like biscuits, cakes, chips, namkeen etc that are manufactured by reputed brands. These are banned because it comes in packaged in the form of plastic wrappings laminated plastics, metalized film packets, sulphite paper packing, aluminum foil packings, etc. CR had claimed that the banning these item had improved cleanliness at the station. According to one estimates, around 2.5 lakh wrappings were found less per day in railway premises ever since the ban came into effect.