THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Forest guards used to frequently report plastic inside elephant poop in most of the 37 elephant corridors around Sabarimala until last season.
Things have changed at the hill shrine now after several anti-plastic measures under the banner of Green Sabarimala Mission started by Pathanamthitta district administration.
Almost all interstate pilgrim buses that enter Sabarimala now discard all possible plastic wastes at checkpoints at Laha and Vadasserikkara before going to Pampa.
Plastic here is sorted by Kudumbashree workers and sent to a private facility where 90 percent waste is recycled and rest incinerated.
“You need to apply techniques to make pilgrims discard plastic bags. Three-four forest officials stop vehicles and enter the buses with audio in regional languages directing them to abandon plastic in exchange for free cloth bags. Mostly we take the guru swami (group leader) into confidence and exchange a cover. With this, people will shed inhibition and start showering plastic outside,” explained an official.
Around 30 ‘eco-guards’ walk between Laha and Pampa 24x7 to clear plastic debris, if any.
Pathanamthitta district collector S. Harikishore said a ‘carpet campaign’ was started with anti-plastic messages printed in every possible place.
There are also two counters at Pampa which exchange cloth bags with plastic bags free of cost....