Kerala

Helping Vembanad breathe

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Efforts to get the lake rid of plastic waste on

A group of fishermen have been conducting plastic collection drive every year since 2011 to get Vembanad Lake, a designated Ramsar site and one of the most polluted waterbodies in the world, rid of plastic waste.

This year, the eighth year of the campaign, more than 80 sacks full of plastic have been collected from a small portion of the lake in Alappuzha district alone. According to them, plastic bottles, especially water bottles and soft drinks bottles, are the most prevalent form of plastic pollution in the lake. They place the blame squarely on operators of houseboats plying on the backwaters for the menace.

Acknowledging the serious threat of plastic pollution to the Vembanad lake ecosystem and to the entire biodiversity, houseboats and resorts in the district have started replacing single-use plastic water bottles with glass jars and glass bottles, albeit slowly. “The most prominent plastic pollutant in Vembanad Lake is plastic bottles. And the answer to this is to avoid packaged drinking water sold in plastic bottles. As a sensible environmentally responsible option, we have decided to switch to glass bottles. From now on, no PET (polyethylene terephthalate) bottles will be given in our boats,” says, Jobin J. Akkarakalam, managing partner, Spice Routes.

Around 480 tonnes of plastic waste is produced in the State every day, with the tourism sector contributing its share. According to a resort near Cherthala, which replaced the PET bottles with glass bottles, they are now saving one lakh plastic bottles a year. Tourists and guests in houseboats and resorts, which have ceased using PET bottles, are provided purified drinking water from their own hygienic bottling plants in sterilised glass bottles.

In June 2018, the Kerala State Pollution Control Board (PCB) had issued a direction to hotels, resorts, houseboats and hospitals with more than 500 beds in the State to stop usage of plastic bottles for supply of drinking water. “We have initially given them six months. So far only a few resorts, hotels and houseboats in Alappuzha have introduced glass bottles. But, it is a positive thing. We want others to follow suit soon and switch to glass/steel bottles and plates. It is important to reduce our dependence on single use plastic,” Biju B., Environmental Engineer, PCB, told The Hindu.

He said all houseboats in the district had been given time till January 2020 to put an alternative system in place.

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Printable version | Dec 16, 2019 1:23:32 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/helping-vembanad-breathe/article28760765.ece

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