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Making Kovalam an eco-friendly destination

S. Anil Radhakrishnan
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World Tourism Day (September 27) will see the launch of the ‘Plastic-free Kovalam Project.' It is aimed at finding a solution to the garbage issue at the beach resort to make it an environment-friendly destination.

The initiative comes weeks ahead of another peak tourist season when the resorts that dot the beaches of Kovalam turn lively.

Under the project, shopkeepers will be provided cloth or paper bags. Plastic carry bags will be collected from them. Initially, 6,000 cotton bags will be supplied free-of-cost by the organisers, including Kerala Tourism.

Boards and hoardings will be placed at entry points to highlight the plastic-free campaign. Kerala Tourism will place dust bins on the Light House, Eves, and Samudra beaches. 

As many as 2,000 leaflets, detailing the hazards of plastic, will be distributed to all those who depend on Kovalam for their livelihood, said Anish Kumar P.K., Lions Clubs International District 324 E1 chairperson for tourism.

The project will be implemented with support from Kerala Tourism, Kerala Tourism Protection Development Council (KTPDC), Udaya Samudra, and the Association of Tourism Trade Organisation's India (ATTOI).

KTPDC will set up a production unit for cloth bags. Women from around Kovalam will be employed at the unit and the bags will be supplied to the shops at the actual cost of production.

Kerala Tourism will hold a meeting at the beach resort to seek the cooperation of all stakeholders in the implementation of the plastic-free zone norms. Steps will be taken to reduce the use of mineral water bottles by tourists. A committee will review the project every month.

It was 11 years ago that the hotels in and around Kovalam started segregating waste into bio-degradable, non bio-degradable, and toxic as part of the ‘Zero-waste Kovalam project.' Funded by Kerala Tourism, the project was initiated by city-based non-governmental organisation (NGO) Thanal and Greenpeace. The local unit of the Kerala Hotel and Restaurant Association (KHRA) had supported the project.

Thanal had set up a resource recovery facility at the Institute of Hotel Management and Catering Technology. Biogas plants were set up at Kerala Tourism Development Corporation Hotels and Resorts (KTDC) and on eight cents purchased by KHRA. The plants are defunct now. Ecopreserve, another NGO, took up the task of waste disposal.

This ran into trouble when Ecopreserve had to vacate a building on Harbour road which its 40 volunteers used as a segregation centre. Attempts to move the waste to the 50 cents of land owned by Kerala Tourism at Mayakunnu behind the Light House beach was opposed by hoteliers and local people. The agency is still carrying out the work.

Kerala Tourism had provided Rs.25 lakh for the zero-waste project and Thanal had spent Rs.34 lakh. Over four tonnes of bio-degradable wastes are generated at Kovalam during the peak season. Over 100 sacks of non-biodegradable waste are also generated.

S. Anil Radhakrishnan

The cooperation of all stakeholders will be sought to enforce plastic-free zone norms.

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