Tourists hotspots to become plastic-free zones soon

Three prime tourist locations in the district — Jog Falls, Agumbe and Sigandur — will become plastic-free zones soon.

As these three places are nestled in the lap of Western Ghats and are covered by thick forest, apprehensions were that, littering by way of plastic cups, plates, and bags by tourists would have a detrimental impact on the fragile ecology. In the wake of this, the Department of Tourism has taken up a slew of measures to keep these popular tourist destinations free from plastic.

Jog Falls, where the Sharavati takes a plunge from the height of 830 ft, records tourist footfall of more than six lakh every year. Sigandur, located in the backwater of Linganamakki reservoir and Agumbe with its mesmerising sunrise and sunset views also attract a large number of tourists.

Lion-Tailed Macaques (LTM), shy primates that spend most of their lives on upper canopies of trees, have turned social in Jog Falls and Agumbe and have developed fondness for food offered by the tourists. They are also seen feeding on leftover food in both places. In addition to LTM, other animals like wild boar, gaur, spotted deer, king cobra, palm civet are also present in good numbers in the forests in the vicinity of these places. Wildlife conservationists were apprehensive that the chances of wild animals that have developed a taste for cooked food consuming plastic used for packing are high and would result in health issues.

H.S. Ramakrishna, Assistant Director, Department of Tourism, told The Hindu that at entry points, baggage would be checked. Thermocol plates; plastic cups, spoons and covers to pack food would not be allowed. Even snacks like chips in plastic covers would not be allowed. Stickers would be pasted on plastic containers including bottles used to carry water and milk at entry points and an amount of ₹50 would be collected for each. At the exit, the visitors can get the deposited amount refunded by producing the stickered item. The objective behind getting the money deposited is to avoid reckless dumping of plastic after usage. Mr. Ramakrishna said the experiment of pasting stickers has proved successful in prevention of plastic littering at Golconda fort.

Boards would be installed informing tourists to dispose leftover food in waste bins. Mr. Ramakrishna said even shopkeepers in these places would be asked not to use single-use plastic to pack food and fruits. Biodegradable packing materials would be provided. By February next year, the stickering practice would come into vogue. In the next phase, the department has planned to take similar measures in Kodachadri and Kundadri, he added.

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Printable version | Apr 2, 2020 12:47:40 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/tourists-hotspots-to-become-plastic-free-zones-soon/article30383564.ece

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