Mumbai’s ‘Blue Squad’ – a team of inspectors wearing blue uniforms – is entrusted with the job of enforcing a recent ban on single-use plastics in the city. Needless to say, shopkeepers aren’t really thrilled when they spot the squad in their markets.
The Blue Squad – middle-aged and graying – may not look intimidating but their weapon, a hefty 5,000 rupee (£52) fine, has reduced grown men to begging, they say. They move swiftly, striding into shops, rifling under the counter and, if they find plastic bags, impose a fine on the shopkeeper.
“No questions. No excuses. We don’t accept any bullshit. The fine is immediate and paid in cash on the spot,” says squad member Annie George sternly. “However, our goal is not to punish, but to make people aware. We met street hawkers and told them, don’t do it for us, do it for your children.”