The district administration has chalked a novel scheme to make Pathanamthitta plastic-free from November 14, according to District Collector, P.Venugopal.

An official meeting convened by the Collector here the other day has resolved to make necessary arrangements to supply eco-friendly carry bags made of cloth, priced at Rs 1 and Rs 2, to all shops and other commercial establishments in the district during October 2 to November 14.

Mr Venugopal said Kudumbasree units in the district have been producing cloth bags for supplying it to various commercial establishments. He said the district administration would purchase eco-friendly carry bags from various other agencies too, if needed, to meet its growing requirement during the annual Sabarimala pilgrimage season.

Plastic menace at Sabarimala

Mr Venugopal said the Divisional Forest Officer at Ranni, R.Kamalahar, has prepared a project named `Harita-poonkavanom' with a view to reduce the plastic menace at Sabarimala and surrounding forest areas, especially during the annual pilgrimage season.

Littering of plastic waste has been a major source of environment pollution at Sabarimala situated in the Periyar Tiger Reserve during the Mandalam-Makaravilakku festival when as many as double the population of the State congregate in a short span of two months.

Mr Kamalahar has prepared a project to make Pampa and surrounding reserve forests pollution-free with the help of school-college students, local population and Vana Samrakshana Samiti (VSS) workers. The project stresses the need to make people well aware of the need to make their surroundings clean and litter-free, upholding the slogan of environment conservation.

Adequate publicity would be given through television channels and newspapers in Kerala and neighbouring States on the alarming pollution menace posed by the plastic waste at Sabarimala.

Special check-posts

The collector said special check-posts would be set up at Kanamala, Laha, Plappally, Elavumkal and Angamozhy on the main trunk roads leading to Sabarimala to collect plastic carry bags brought by devotees and replace it with eco-friendly cloth bags on the spot itself.

Mr Venugopal said arrangements would also be made to remove empty pet bottles from Sabarimala, Pampa and surrounding forest areas.

He said six workers would be posted at Pampa Manalpuram round the clock to remove the waste accumulated along the iron fence erected across river Pampa during the annual pilgrimage season. Solid waste would be segregated and degradable waste would be disposed in earthen pits in the forest area itself and the non-degradable waste would be taken outside the forests for recycling, Mr Venugopal said.

Vana Samrakshana Samiti members would deployed at the proposed Pilgrim Service Centres at Vadasserikkara, Laha, Plappally, Angamoozhy, Nilackal and Pampa. This is besides a 24-hour mobile rescue force headed by Forest officials.

The Collector has also sought active support and participation of the general public, traders and all other sections of the society in the administration's efforts to make the district plastic-free and ensure effective environment conservation.