KOTTAYAM: The Travancore Devaswom Board has blamed the forest department for the presence of plastic materials in the forest path leading to Sabarimala and the death of a cow elephant after it consumed plastic waste at Valiyanavattom over a week ago.
TDB president A. Padmakumar told Deccan Chronicle that the place where the cow elephant died comes under the jurisdiction of the forest department. "Hence, the department is responsible for its death," he added. The carcass was found at Valianavattom, hardly two km from Pampa, and plastic waste was found in the lesions of the elephant.
The places where there is major presence of the plastic materials come under the forest department and the TDB cannot do anything to remove them. We have sanitised the places coming under us," Mr Padmakumar said.
The plastic materials left behind by the pilgrims at Cheriyanavattom, the forest path from Pampa to Sannidhanam, and the premises of Sannidhanam up to Orakkuzhy are posing a major threat to the wild animals, including elephants.
An officer of the forest department said that the department was not doing enough to clean the plastics. It may be recalled that the use of plastic products is banned in Pampa and Sabarimala.
The 7-km forest path from Pampa to Sannidhanam is a dumping ground for plastic waste. Both the TDB and the forest department have permitted shops to function at places from Pampa to Sannidhanam.
The forest department had deputed 15 tribal people from the Attathodu tribal settlement colony to clean the places, but the quantity of wastes is huge, sources said.
The route from Kalaketty to Cheriyanavattom is also littered with waste. Earlier, the wild elephants used to consume plastic waste from the sewage treatment plant of the TDB at Cheriyanavattom before it was made functional.
The forest department will continue to sanitise the forest path to Sabarimala from Kalakatty to Cheriyanavattom, said sources....