The efforts of the administration in controlling the use of plastics in this ecologically sensitive district over the last few years have paid good dividends. But the desired result is yet to be achieved.
Many told The Hindu that the awareness about the harm caused by disposable plastic items such as cups, plates and bags to the environment was growing among the tourists. However the number of local persons who were indifferent to the problem was also growing. This was cause for serious concern as sans the cooperation of the local people, the objectives of the anti-plastic campaign could not be achieved.
When the ban on plastics was imposed in the district about five years ago, the district administration pointed out that the use of plastics had over the years caused extensive damage to the environment. Instances of wild animals, horses and cattle dying due to medical conditions caused by consumption of plastics were on the rise.
The authorities had also said the aggravation of pollution-related problems at the Ooty Lake was due to plastic items entering it through the Kodappamund Channel.
An elaborate plan of action to put an end to the menace had been drawn up. The aim was that everyone including shopkeepers and consumers should shun plastic carry bags. A provision for making available alternatives had also been made. Five years on, a view shared by many here is that a lot more needs to be done to make the local community fall in line.
While tourists who are sensitive to the cause of the environment are of the view that the war against plastics is a `better late than never' initiative, the outlook of many of the residents remains callous.
In places such as Kotagiri disposable plastic items are freely available. The Nilgiris Collector Santosh K.Misra said that the anti-plastic campaign would be stepped up.
The ban would be ruthlessly enforced and erring traders and consumers would be pulled up. He expressed hope that the local people would help make the Nilgiris a model environment district.