The TTD board's decision on a complete ban on plastic use was implemented in three stages in the past two years. (Representational Photo:DC)
TIRUPATI: While the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams’ ban on single-use plastic came into force atop the Tirumala from Wednesday, pilgrims made a plea to the temple body to exclude packaged drinking water from the ban.
Also, facilitate use of alternatives to plastic so that the transition to non-plastic packages does not cause any inconvenience, they pleaded.
The nation’s top temple administration had announced enforcing the plastic ban in Tirumala on Tuesday in a bid to preserve the serenity of the environment in the Seven Hills nestled amid the Seshachalam forests. Since January 2020, there has been a blanket ban on use of packaged or bottled drinking water in plastic bottles on the hills.
The TTD reportedly took this decision as the holy town's garbage bins are filled with plastic water bottles. A majority of the pilgrims, about 80,000 on an average a day, used to carry them.
The TTD board’s decision on a complete ban on plastic use was implemented in three stages in the past two years.
In the first phase, use of water bottles was banned in all TTD departments and the offices were directed to use only the Jalaprasadam water. In the second stage, a mandatory advisory was displayed at all TTD rest houses, urging devotees not to carry single-use plastic bottles.
In the third stage, all eateries and restaurants in Tirumala were urged to avoid water bottles and use only water from the Jalaprasadam units.
Later, TTD issued notices to various agencies supplying water bottles to Tirumala to stop this. Then came a complete ban on single-use plastic water bottles in all transport vehicles like cars and buses coming in right from the Alipiri check post.
As an alternative, TTD set up over 100 Jalaprasadam units across Tirumala, through which over 4.4 lakh litres of filtered water is made available for devotees every day.
Now, packaged drinking water is made available to the visiting devotees in glass bottles and TTD is providing purified drinking water through its Jalaprasadam units.
Some pilgrims have urged TTD to exclude bottled water from the plastic ban, as they are easy to carry.
A visitor from Rajampeta, Harish, told Deccan Chronicle that the ban on plastic is welcome but the temple body should facilitate use of other alternatives by pilgrims. "The security staff at Alipiri restrained us from taking packaged drinking water that came in a single-use plastic bottle. We are wondering how we can carry drinking water," he said.
Another devotee from Thiruvallur, Muthukumar, also expressed similar views but felt that the plastic garbage pile-up in the holy town has forced TTD to enforce the ban on plastic water bottles. He urged TTD to provide alternatives to bottled water and ensure collection and recycling of plastic bottles until then.