And so, the much-awaited deadline has come – the Man from Madras Musings alludes to the State Government’s decision to ban plastic, especially the use of non-biodegradable carry bags. The powers-that-be, in keeping with their powers have taken a lofty decision and left those down the line, namely the lower orders, to take care of the nitty-gritty involved in implementing such a step. Mind you, MMM is not complaining about the decision. He agrees with the powers-that-be that we need to gift a plastic-free State to our future generations (those by the way are not MMM’s words but the Government’s). All very well no doubt, but what is to be done hereafter?

The Government is going about it in the exact way that you would expect Governments to. Teams of ‘implementers of plastic ban’ have begun calling on shops and establishments. These visits are in reality raids and spot fines of Rs 10,000 and one-time warnings are being issued. What thereafter? Those visited, raided, fined and warned are expected to be plastic-free from then on, failing which the consequences can be dire. From now on, MMM expects this raiding of establishments that use plastic to be a continuous activity for Government authorities. It will become one more of those news items that can be bracketed with raids on illegal bars, restaurants that sell adulterated food and of course what are euphemistically known as establishments of ill repute.

In MMM’s view the Government has turned a blind eye to several aspects that it ought to have gone into – what is to be done to products that necessarily come wrapped in plastic – white goods, computer hardware, etc? Will these need to switch to banana leaves? Has the Government gone off plastic? If so how do you explain the hundreds of water bottles that are placed on the tables at every Government meeting, not to speak of political meetings where such bottles are the norm? What of plastic-wrapped bunting that are stretched from one end of a street to the other each time a leader comes calling? What about the thousands of laminated photographs of dear departed leaders that are sold to the party-faithful and which they carry about in their translucent shirts? Do all these things go off too? And now, on the same lines as the ‘success’ of the plastic ban, will we soon see a garbage ban as well? After all, with a plastic ban, we must be left with just biodegradable waste, which we should be able to process within our homes.

It is also a matter of concern to MMM that we in Tamil Nadu may be robbing our cattle population of what is a major constituent of their diet. That the average Chennai cow is partial to plastic is well known. What will happen to these animals if plastics vanish off the face of the earth? The annihilation of the cow is bound to be a certainty thereafter. Will the ruler in the distant north not be offended on coming to know of this? After all, he has worked tirelessly to provide his bovine buddies much comfort in the last four years. Will his wrath not descend on his B-team here?

MMM had better close his story here. As in any household, his too has hoarded plastic bags for years. He does not want to be fined. The next few days will see MMM ponder over what is to be done. It rather ironic that MMM who coasted through demonetisation with nary a care, is concerned at the thought of de-plasticization.