With the Sabarimala pilgrimage season in full swing, the State is intensifying its activities to deal with the plastic threat in the hill shrine.
The Forest Department of Kerala constituted a buy-back policy to recollect and destroy the used plastic bottles of Sabarijalam drinking water. A plastic shredding machine will start functioning from Wednesday in Sabarimala to destroy the bottles thus collected.
Anil Kumar, Public Relations Officer at the Forest Department, said that the used plastic bottles of the Sabarijalam brand could be recollected for Rs. 2, in order to prevent plastic dumping at Sabarimala. Last year, the bottles were recollected for Re. 1.
The shops which sell the bottles and the Vana Samrakshana Samiti are engaged in recollecting the bottles, he added.
During the annual pilgrimage season which stretches for two months, Sabarimala sees growing number of pilgrims flowing in from different states and the plastic littering is a major reason for environment pollution at Sabarimala.
In an effort to curb the littering of Sabarimala with plastic bottles and save the ecosystem and the wildlife in the Periyar Tiger Reserve, the State Forest Department introduced the Sabarijalam scheme in 2009. Used bottles of Sabarijalam were recollected through a buy-back policy.
The Pathanamthitta district administration and other organisations including Kudumbasree and Vana Samrakshana Samiti have come under the banner of ‘Suchitwa Mission’, a drive to make the district plastic-free. The Ranni Forest Department has also launched a programme called ‘Harita Poonkavanom’ to curb the environmental pollution caused by plastic dumping.
To increase Sabarijalam production
The Forest Department is also planning a multi-fold increase in the production of Sabarijalam. “The capacity of the current plant engaged in the production is 2000 bottles a day. Steps are being taken to increase the production of Sabarijalam to one lakh bottles a day,” said Anil Kumar, Public Relations Officer at the Forest Department.