Bombay bans plastic bags, saying they can clog drains and cause flooding

Plastic bags are maddeningly ubiquitous and ugly as sin, but did you know they can cause flooding? According to India’s Maharashtra state government, millions of bags clogged up drains in Bombay’s slums during monsoon season, dramatically worsening the epic late-July flooding that killed hundreds of people in the city. Now the state plans to outlaw most plastic shopping bags, to the great chagrin of bag manufacturers. The industry says the state is trying to duck responsibility for failing to repair Bombay’s aged, crumbling drainage system and take other measures that would forestall flooding, like restoring the region’s mangroves. But, said the buck-stops-here chief minister, “The media and environmental and citizens’ groups demanded that plastic bags be banned, so we are banning them.” By some measures, plastic bags account for 20 percent of the 770-odd tons of garbage produced in the Bombay area each day.