VISAKHAPATNAM: Alarmed over increasing plastic litter and allied material in popular tourist spots, ghat roads and weekly shandies in tribal areas, Integrated Tribal Development Agency (ITDA) has decided to ban plastics in agency areas from April 1.
“These ecologically sensitive areas will be made a plastic-free zone,” declared Paderu ITDA project officer Ronanki Gopalakrishna.
Talking to Deccan Chronicle on Saturday, he said staff of village secretariats will enforce the ban and create awareness as well among traders and tourists over not using plastic material. Three checkpoints have been established, one each at Chilakalagedda, Vaddadi and Downuru, where tourists and traders will be frisked.
Gopalakrishna conceded that it will be a difficult task to impose the ban. But they began the initiative last year when ITDA, gram panchayat, MPDOs and other stakeholders discussed ways to impose the ban. The officer said though the volume of plastic in use cannot be assessed in hilly areas and remote villages, 60 percent of waste generated in the agency is plastic, according to a rough estimate. These include plastic water sachets and single-use plastic. Once these two items are curbed, plastic waste can be minimised, he felt.
The ITDA project officer disclosed that they will impose fines on tourists, shops and commercial establishments that flout plastic ban. Polythene below 130 micron will not be allowed. As an alternative to plastic bags, ITDA will promote cloth bags stitched by self-help groups. Traders can sell these instead of plastic covers.
Additional district medical and health officer Dr. Leela Prasad said medical officers have often been raising the issue in several meetings, as the situation is going out of hand due to increasing tourism.
“It is sad to see traders and tourists dumping from ghat roads into gorges waste, which cannot be retrieved,’’ Dr. Prasad underlined.
Environmentalists say increasing temperature in the agency area is a result of plastic being dumped over the years....