HC bans disposable bottles in Kodaikanal too

The Madras High Court has extended the ban imposed by it on Wednesday on carrying disposable plastic bottles and wrappers into Nilgiris district to Kodaikanal hill station too. It has directed the State government to implement the ban at both the hill stations as littering of plastic waste was causing great damage to the pristine ecology.

Passing interim orders on a public interest litigation petition, Justices N. Sathish Kumar and P.T. Asha took cognisance of a news report carried in The Hindu on Tuesday regarding three tonnes of plastic waste having been removed from the Mettupalayam-Coonoor-Udhagamandalam ghat road by volunteers from Coonoor, Coimbatore and Hyderabad.

“It has to be taken note that footfall to Nilgiris has increased manifold as it is a very important tourist place. However, people visiting the place are indifferent and show total apathy towards maintaining the pristine beauty of the place. The visitors discard disposable plastic bottles and plastic wrappers everywhere,” the judges lamented, appealing to the people to adhere to the ban imposed by them for the sake of preserving the environment.

Though it was the duty of citizens to protect the environment, “of late, we have seen that people have become totally unmindful of the importance of preserving our forest cover,” the Bench rued. It pointed out that indiscriminate disposal of waste by tourists had not only created an ecological imbalance but also a change in habits of native animals.

“Monkeys, commonly known as langur, have become addictive to food items thrown by tourists and it has resulted in many accidental deaths of these animals. Apart from that, spotted deer also fall prey to food items given by tourists. The throwing of plastic bottles, packets etc., has resulted in the death and injury to several animals,” the court said.

Taking all this into consideration, the judges ordered conduct of checks at all entry points to Nilgiris and Kodaikanal and issued orders to seize plastic wrappers as well as disposable plastic bottles used to carry water, soft drinks and juices. They, however, made it clear that tourists would be free to carry water and juices in reusable containers.

“In case of violation of the ban, the vehicle owners should be imposed with fines,” the court ordered and directed the Nilgiris Collector to make sure that disposable plastic bottles and wrappers were not brought from Kerala and Karnataka and that they were not sold in any of the shops situated on the ghat roads leading to Ooty and Kodaikanal.

It was further ordered that tourist vehicles should not be allowed to stop on the ghat roads or in the forest areas for cooking or consuming food, since such acts tend to attract monkeys and put the lives of those animals in danger. Government officials were directed to publicise the court order widely in Kerala and Karnataka too.

Taking note of the fact that the ban on disposable plastic bottles and wrappers had been implemented successfully in North Sikkim, the judges said, traders and manufacturers of such products would have to cooperate in implementing the ban in Ooty and Kodaikanal too as the court had a moral obligation to protect the environment.

Also stating that it would give an opportunity to hear traders during the final hearing of the case, the Bench tagged the present PIL petition with another case in which the court in January appointed an expert committee to suggest ways to eradicate exotic invasive species that stifle the growth of native shola forests and grasslands in the Western Ghats.

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Printable version | Jan 24, 2022 7:11:30 AM |

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