Kerala, in the southern most tip of India, is known world wide as God’s Own Land, thanks to the tourism promotion strategies charted out by successive administrations. A tiny district in the state, Pathanamthitta, which is also home to one of the most popular pilgrimage spots in India, has launched an ambitious project to get rid of all plastic from its terrain.
Starting November 14, just a few days prior to the start of the pilgrimage to the famous forest temple at Sabarimala, the mission to wipe plastic away from the face of the district would begin.
Even as the very idea of a ‘plastic-free Pathanamthitta’ was conceived by the district administration, the project is being carried out by a number of organisations, led by the Suchitwa Mission (cleanliness mission).
The mission aims at buying back plastic bags from homes. Plastic shredders are being set up, and machines to make bio-degradable alternatives to plastic bags will be installed.
The municipality of Pathanamthitta has begun its anti-plastic drive by seizing from shops plastic carrybags that are less than 40 microns in thickness. Errant shopkeepers are being penalized Rs 5,000 each.
Yet another highlight of the anti-plastic mission is that vehicles carrying pilgrims from outside Kerala will be stopped at eight check-posts, and, plastic bags, if found, will be taken away. Instead, the pilgrims will be provided with biodegradable bags.
Nonetheless, PET bottles will be allowed in the district since the authorities are yet to come across an alternative to these.