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Increase in price of lunch packet unreasonable and unfair: CEA Chairman

Increasing the price of a lunch packet by Rs.10 in the wake of the lunch sheet ban is highly unreasonable and unfair by the consumers, Central Environmental Authority (CEA) Chairman Prof. Lal Mervin Dharmasiri said.

Speaking to the Daily News yesterday, Prof Dharmasiri pointed out the polythene ban that came into effect from September 1 was for the common good of people’s health and environmental protection, adding that it needs the wholehearted support of all segments of society.

“Food vendors are not without options. A biodegradable sheet is available in the market. The producers of this sheet said they could offer it at Rs.1.50. The price of a lunch sheet is about 75 cents. How fair is it to increase a lunch packet by Rs 10 in view of this marginal change of cost?,” he asked.

He said in addition to biodegradable sheets, many suppliers have come forward to supply banana and lotus leaves for the purpose of preparing lunch packets.

“They ask for a price of Rs.5 for it. Still the additional cost the buyer has to bear will be worthy given the flavour and aroma it adds. It is purely a matter of spending a few more Rupees for the good of your own health,” he remarked.

Prof Dharmasiri, pointing out that the reactions of the people at large over the decision to ban lunch sheets and shopping bags have been encouraging, said the majority of comments were in support to the move.

“I could read several web comments in news sites over this matter. I understood that the people welcome this move and are ready to walk the extra mile to make it successful,” Dharmasiri added.

Observing that the Sri Lanka Canteen Owners’ Association has so far not sought any meeting with him, said the CEA is ready for discussion at any time. “Resorting to cheap actions or protests won’t do. They have to come to grips with the current situation,” the CEA Chairman said.

The Sri Lanka Canteen Owners’ Association on Friday decided to increase the price of a lunch packet by Rs.10 in protest against the ban on lunch sheets.

Association President Asela Sampath said they would also consider revising the prices of other food items such as string hoppers, kottu, fried rice, pittu etc as they are also usually wrapped in lunch sheets.

President Maithripala Sirisena on Friday issued a Gazette Extraordinary prohibiting “manufacture, sale, offer for sale, offer free of charge,exhibition or use” of polythene or any polythene product that are 20 microns and below,lunch sheets,grocery bags,food containers (lunch boxes), plates, cups, and spoons from expanded polystyrene.