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'Green Kumbh' campaign dented by use of plastic


The Times of India, Nashik

September 1, 2015


NASHIK: Bouyed by the 'Green Kumbh' idea, civic officials carried out extensive cleanliness campaigns for a couple of days before the first holy dip while environment activists distributed cloth carry bags to pilgrims. That did not prevent pilgrims or sadhus from using plastic, an environmentally hazardous product.


The Kumbh was declared plastic-free, but sadhus themselves seem to have defeated the purpose by using plastic at Sadhugram. "We use whatever is available, be it plastic tea cups and plates," came a blunt reply from Ramkishoredasji Shastri, Shree Mahant of Digambar Akhada.


He added, "The government officials should inform the sadhus and mahants that plastic is banned and they should also make alternative items for our daily use available in the market." However, he said that many Sadhus are aware of the environment, and so they do not use plastic containers.


The Green Kumbh Committee comprising activists and government officials cutting across departments was constituted by the high court. "A lot has to be done to ensure that the Kumbh really becomes Green," said Rajesh Pandit adding that they have strengthened the environment awareness campaigns at the Kumbh venues by educating the akhadas and pilgrims at Sadhugram and Ramkund areas.


Environment activist said Green Kumbh could not be observed 100% as they could not reach Ramkund area.


"Our volunteers swarmed the Kumbh venue and have been relentlessly distributing cloth bags in exchange of plastic bags from pilgrims. We have increased our awareness campaigns by going into the akhadas and talking to the sadhus and mahants and also reaching out to the devotees attending the spiritual discourses and bhajans. Use of plastic glasses and plates are going on but we hope to bring them down with accelerating the awareness campaigns," said Pandit.


He said they would promote the use of paper cups and paper glass for drinking tea and water.


Health officer of the Nashik Municipal Corporation (NMC) Vijay Dekate said, "We have been creating awareness and have also confiscated plastic at both Ramkund and Sadhugram. We have slapped a fine of around Rs 12,000 on people selling plastic. The menace has been curbed to a large extent. We will keep creating awareness but ultimately it is also the responsibility of people."


Our volunteers swarmed the Kumbh venue and have been relentlessly distributing cloth bags in exchange for plastic bags from pilgrims.