Thiruvananthapuram: Morning walkers will find Kanakakkunnu ground as clean as it was before Onam week, according to the Green Army team. To ensure this, some of the Green Army volunteers, which include school children, guard the Kanakakkunnu entry gates, and take Rs 10 for every plastic cover or bottle. Sometimes they have to convince the visitors about the money. But the biggest challenge, the volunteers face is not from visitors, but from vendors on the ground because they hand out disposable plates and glasses, even though they have been told not to from the first day. So the Corporation’s health officials, with the Green Army volunteers, seize plastic cups and plates from them.
Then the Green Army team offers steel cups, steel plates and arecanut leaf plates at a rent of `1 per piece per day. “However they start again when they are not monitored. It is a constant struggle for us,” says Babitha P.S., programme manager, Green Village, one of the organisations associated with the Green Army programme. However clean it is inside, outside Kanakakkunnu gates, there are Styrofoam and paper plates as well as cups strewn around. Babitha says that the Corporation’s health squad goes around once in every two or three hours, to seize plastic from the street vendors. A morning walker who takes the road in front of the Museum says she was shocked at the amount of waste on the road. “Why can’t they start a spot fine for people who litter, rather than waiting for a contingent worker to clean it in the morning?” she asks.
Most of the Green Army volunteers are stationed at Kanakakkunnu, which is the biggest venue for the Onam week celebrations. A few of the older members of the team arrive as early as 6 am and leave by 2 am, to ensure that the premises are spic-and-span. But the focus is on reducing plastic and getting people to segregate waste as much as possible. “What is most important is the message that we send out – of being responsible for our own waste,” says Sheena Roy, Director (Administr-ation), Green Village.