Friday, July 2, 2010

Guruvayur shrine bids adieu to plastic bags

Pilgrims travelling to the Guruvayur shrine in Kerala's Thrissur district will be charged Rs 500 if found littering plastic on the streets. The Guruvayur Municipal Corporation (GMC) and the temple administration have joined hands to rid the temple town of plastic waste. 

"We have introduced a total plastic ban in Guruvayur. Plastic carry bags will no longer be used. Other plastic products like toys will be phased out gradually,'' said GMC chairperson Geetha Gopi. Pilgrims should not dump plastic bottles on the road, she said. GMC health squads and the police will watch out for violators. On its part, the temple has decided to forego plastic bags used in 'prasad' distribution. "For the time being, we have bought carry bags made of clothes and other bio-degradable material. We will soon float a tender to buy material for the next year,'' said Dewasom Chairman Thottathil Raveendran. 

However, plastic cans used to carry 'prasad' cannot be replaced immediately but the temple will work out a plan to introduce environment-friendly cans, he said. Everyday thousands of these cans and carry bags are used by pilgrims visiting the shrine. 

According to Gopi, "Normally, we have about 12 loads of garbage. This doubles during the pilgrimage season, a large portion of which is plastic waste.'' Last year, in spite of 140 labourers working to clean up plastic waste, the pile increased choking drains. 

"The state government had approved of a GMC garbage treatment plant over a year ago. But the plant cannot handle plastic. Around three months ago, we called a meeting of all stakeholders to decide on a plan. Everyone supported a total ban,'' said Gopi.

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