Sources at Bangladesh Jute Mills Corporation (BJMC) said the absence of a cost-effective alternative and lack of intense monitoring by the government were hindering the successful implementation of the act.
The act clearly mentions that all the traders as well as the government organisations concerned must use jute bags while packing trading paddy, pulses, wheat, fertiliser and sugar.
As per the provision of the law, the offenders will be fined with Tk50,000 or be jailed for one year, while the second time offenders will face both the punishments.
Speaking to the Dhaka Tribune, Omar Azam, general secretary of Chaktai Rice Traders’ Association, said the mandatory jute packaging act could not be enforced properly due to the price factor.
To prove his point, the leader of the rice wholesalers said a polypropylene sack costs Tk15 while a gunny sack costs Tk55-65.
“Therefore, the milers and wholesalers do not always feel encouraged to follow the rules. Moreover, the state-owned sugar mills and fertliser factories of the Bangladesh Chemical Industries Corporation should enforce the rules first then others will follow their footsteps,” said Azam.
Mustafizur Rahman, proprietor of MS Trading and an agent of the BJMC, said they were incurring a huge amount of losses due to the rampant use of PP bags.
“At present, I have an unsold stock of 45,000 pieces of jute sacks. I had to spend an amount for being an agent of the BJMC,” he lamented.
According to Chittagong district administration, a mobile court fined four wholesalers at Reazuddin Bazar with Tk20,000 for not complying with mandatory jute packaging act.
Besides, another mobile court fined errant food grain traders on December 6.
“Recently we have launched an anti-polythene campaign in the city so that the people can become aware of the environmental hazard caused by polythene shopping bags. As part of the anti-polythene campaign, we are distributing posters, leaflets and stickers to spread awareness regarding the adverse effects of polythene use on the environment. We are also exchanging views with the kitchen traders associations of the city and raising awareness in this regard,” said Sangjucta Das Gupta, assistant director of the DoE (Chittagong Metropolitan).
Asked for his comment, Muhammad Edris Ali, associate professor, Department of Chemistry at Government Hazi Muhammad Mohsin College, said: “Jute is more environment-friendly than polythene.”