Plastic ban in Sabariamala to continue this season as well

A man washes the golden steps of the Lord Ayyappa temple at Sabarimala. File   | Photo Credit: AFP

The ban on plastics in and around Sabarimala introduced in 2015 and reiterated in 2018 by the high court will remain in force this time around, with the court turning down a plea by the Special Commissioner for Sabairmala to lift the ban.

The Special Commission sought to lift the ban temporarily in view of the COVID-19 situations. The Commissioner requested that face-shields, masks, gloves and hand sanitisers in plastic bottles be permitted for the current Mandalam- Makaravilakku season and suggested that the Sabarimala Sanitisation Society be directed to collect, segregate and dispose of the plastic items in a scientific manner.

The Division Bench, while rejecting the plea, observed that in fighting the pandemic, while permitting congregation of people in pilgrim centres, “we cannot allow a perennial problem to the environment to be resumed”.

The court said that the masks, gloves and plastic shields now sought to be introduced contained plastic with lesser durability prompting the dumping of the same after minimal use.

The court pointed out that the virus had been generally understood to be not here to stay and preventive measures were vigorously pursued with a hope of a vaccine being developed immediately. On the other hand, plastic, being non-biodegradable, due to its use and abuse by mankind, was here to stay.

The Bench also referred to news reports on large-scale pollution in remote Mount Everest due to plastic and a study which found micro plastics in every snow sample analysed from the Himalayan peak.

With all the restrictions in place due to the pandemic, there were said to be 1,000 devotees permitted in Sabarimala on a day. This had to be compared with the fact that only less than 1,000 people scale Mount Everest every year that too for a short period, which itself had created the scourge.

Besides, the court also noted that the Special Commissioner did not offer any clue as to how such collection, segregation and disposal of plastics could be effectively carried out in a scientific manner without harming the devotees and the flora and fauna in the areas.

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Printable version | Jan 22, 2021 5:50:55 AM |

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