Thiruvananthapuram: Pilgrims to St Chaavara Bhavan at Kainakary, an island village in Alappuzha, have been asked not to bring water bottles to the pilgrimage centre. This is one of the many small measures connected with green protocol initiative, voluntarily implemented by the church. Apart from handing over segregated waste to scrap dealers, the local government has no role in the initiative.
As walking the 1-km stretch between Chaavara boat jetty and Chavara boat jetty would leave them thirsty, pilgrims would carry their own water bottle. “Visitors try to avoid drinking Kuttanad’s water is polluted by pesticides, and there is a severe scarcity of drinking water," says Joppan Zachariah, coordinator, St Chavara Bhavan. “But this would mean a massive clean-up drive after the pilgrimage with plastic littered all around. Bottles would be hurled into the lake also. So this time, we issued notices asking pilgrims not to bring plastic bottles.”
They claim that most people have complied with the protocol. Still, as some would bring bottled water, they have set up jute waste bins. The church has set up kiosks offering clean drinking water at various points on the compound. It was tough to convince food committee to stop using disposables since it is not easy to wash thousands of plates.
Mr Zachariah says that in 2014 when Saint Kuriakose Elias Chavara was canonised, the footfall was 25,000 in just a day. Eventually, everyone agreed. “A study points out that one in 12 people at Kainakary are cancer patients and survivors. Moreover, Pope Francis has underscored the importance of conserving Nature. We have to reduce the use of plastic,” says Fr Thomas Kallukalam CMI, director, St Chaavara Bhavan....