Thursday, May 6, 2010

Nagercoil bids adieu to plastic, shall we try to follow them?

Yesterday my husband was talking about his friend who was from Nagercoil (Tamilnadu).  The friend was praising his home town so much that my husband wants to visit that place instead of visiting  Coimbatore, which was our original plan.

I have read that Nagercoil city is  an interesting place to visit, though not very popular like Kanyakumari and has got a pleasant climate throughout the year.  Now, a revolution is happening there.  

Recently, 'The Municipal Council has decided not to allow use of plastic items under 20 microns and those violating this decision will be slapped a fine of Rs.5,000.'

Normally, we think that these types of orders will not work in India, but it does, which is unbelievable.  The people of Nagercoil have stopped using plastic in shops, hotels, hospitals, everywhere, it seems.  Please read this article:  

The writer, Lallu Joseph writes:

'A delightful surprise was in store for me a few weeks back when I went to Nagercoil to see my parents and also drop my children at their grandparent’s house for the summer vacation. On the way to a relative’s place, I stopped at a fruit shop. The shopkeeper packed the grapes in paper with lotus leaf and handed it over to me as such without putting it in the customary plastic bag. When I asked for a plastic carry bag, the shopkeeper told me that the use of plastic is banned in Nagercoil.

I was still sceptical as to how the ban would work. Maybe, because the shop was bang outside the collector’s office, the man was adhering to the order, I thought. But all my subsequent shopping expeditions revealed that plastic covers have indeed been banished from the town. Even more surprising was the fact that my mother and all my aunts had cloth bags in their cars, and no one was complaining about the ban or on the need to carry their own bags for shopping.

I became curious and started making enquiries. Everyone had good things to say about the efforts of the district administration. I was told that the district collector went in person to the business houses and convinced them on the need for banning plastic. The administration sent short messages on mobile phones highlighting the ban on non-degradable plastic items. Once the ban came into force, the administration formed 94 flying squads and raided shops, hotels and other commercial establishments to check on the use of non-biodegradable items.'

Even the famous tourist place Kanyakumari beach, which was normally used to be full of plastic bags, was looking very clean without a single plastic bag, he says.

I have read so many negative news about plastics - cows swallowing plastic bags from the garbage bins and dying, elephants in the forests en-route to Guruvayoor temple, dying after swallowing left over foods thrown by the devotees in plastic bags, etc.    Plastics floating on water in roadside swamps...along with some birds, maybe fish, turtle, frogs etc....used to feel sorry for them.  This news gives hope for the future.  Maybe, if the government along with people, sincerely work together, our whole country might become a better place to live - for animals, birds and humans.

Our next trip is definitely, Nagercoil.  I really admire the people over there.

I came across this article about non-toxic plastic, which looks like a dream.  We are so used to using plastic for packing liquid things like chutney, saambaar etc. from hotels or covering things to keep them away from moisture etc., plastic has become an important material in our day-to-day life,  nowadays.  This non-toxic plastic sounds interesting. 

Proper disposal and segregation of plastics would be better, I feel.  Now, plastic is re-used for road-laying along with bitumin and I remember reading that some stretch of roads have already been laid in some university complexes and seem to be good.

Still, we can try to reduce the usage of plastic carry bags. The first step to be taken by us,  is keeping a cloth bag in our handbags when we go to super markets or vegetable shops.  Shall we start doing that?

This is a bit shocking but we have to know how we are polluting our forests and other parts of our mother earth (Thank you Cichus B):

Edited to add on 25th May, '10: The District Collector's comment


R. Ramesh said...

u should have been a journalist S..u write about subjects of public interest..gr8..wishes

vimmuuu said...

Woah, Nagercoil does that ? seriously, never thought anywhere in India that could be implemented. I donno if they had imposed such a rule here in T.N., but they had a similar rule in Kerala a few years back. But nobodys bothered to follow it and it includes me too. I guess we all need to come out of our comfort zones and take efforts to implement this. good post.

Smitha said...

Wow! That is so impressive! It just goes to show that we can do things, if we really want to. And our govts can work miracles, if they wanted to!

These stories are hardly ever covered by the mainstream media! So inspiring!

Saritha said...

That's a good news and wish more states implement that rule of not using plastic bags.

Here few days back they banned plastic bags at all the major stores and malls.Everyone were forced to buy jute bags but after few days slowly every store started using plastic bags.

Nicely written sandhya :)

Sandhya said...

Ramesh: Thank you, Ramesh!

Vimmuuu: I think some stores had started using paper and jute bags like Odessey and some medical stores, then stopped. Mumbai, Jaipur, Delhi tried to implement but not able to. I remember carrying 'katte pai', i.e. a huge bag with bamboo handle, whenever I went out, until some years back. The plastic bags are quite sturdy to carry things and mostly we go by vehicle, maybe that could be the reason!

This is also a reason why I admire these people. At least they have started trying seriously. I am going to carry a 'katte pai' now. I have written this post and I should try to do something, na?!

Smitha: Yes, if we put our heart into something, we can do it, Smitha! We know at least some people are trying to do it for us to follow them!

Varunavi: Yes, Saritha, this method had been tried by many states. But found it difficult to follow when easier and cheaper methods were available.

Segregation should be promoted more seriously.

Swaram said...

Woww! Thatz so impressive Sandhya. Goes to show everybody needs to do their bit :) Thanks for sharing :)

kanagu said...

This is a real good news... Really a great effort by that district collector and administration... I think Chennai take this as an example as it is one of the highly populated and generating lot of wastes... Individuals can make a lil difference but a concerned initiative from govt will go a long way :) i think few years back in ooty or kodaikanal same kind of ban introduced and i dont know whether its followed till now...
Thanks for bringing out this... Wonderful :)

Sandhya said...

Swaram: Don't know if this is practical in the long run, but these people are trying at least. We should admire them for their spirit.

Kanagu: Here, we need somebody to behave like a teacher with a ruler in her hand, like Amma did for 'rain water harvesting'. She had brought a rule not to give power connection to the new flats if they hadn't implemented the 'rain harvesting' method in the building. I remember our local Panchayat people conducting door to door visits to check if it was done correctly. Some people were cheating in so many ways!

Shail said...

Wonderful step taken by Nagercoil. This same move has been an utter failure in Trivandrum. One moment there was a ban but within weeks everyone was back to using plastic! :( So this news comes as a breath of fresh air.
Really good post Sandhya!! Kudos.

Sandhya said...

Shail: Many State Governments had tried to implement this practice but they didn't go to the level of fining and the people were not co-operative. Here, both sides are serious, though it is not easy to maintain, they are doing their best.

My sister had been taking cloth bag whenever she was going out for shopping for a long time now! I am not that serious, but now I am keeping a khadi bag in the car and one in my handbag.

Thank you, Shail.

Sai Charan said...

Wishing you a "Happy Mother's Day" Sandhyaji :) You are such a kind hearted, caring mother & both your sons must be very proud of you :)

Feels like years since I last visited your blog - I missed your informative pieces of writing & your caring words. I've been intending to write a comment since many days - but today of all days, on the occasion of Mother's day, I knew for sure that I would never miss the chance to convey my wishes to you.

I've always felt home at your blog & I know that if my mother starts a blog some day, her blog would be just like yours. I'm sorry for staying away so long - Ok, you may feel that there is no need to be sorry, but I felt the need to tell it to you.

Leave alone the practice of following blog posts & writing comments but you are such a good friend & I need to always stay in touch with you.

I don't get sufficient leisure time to improve upon this hobby of blogging & be regular here. Wish I knew your mail i.d., I could stay in touch through mails.

Please convey my warmest regards to all your family members :) Keep smiling, take care :)

Sai :)

Sandhya said...

Sai: Nice to see you back here, Sai! I really missed your comments and posts too!

You can always feel free to write to me, Sai. Please convey our regards to your parents too!

Anonymous said...

Very informative post, Sandhya!

Good to hear that banning plastic has been successful in Nagarcoil.

It should be banned everywhere. In Mumbai, when there is a 'banning drive', people stop using plastic carry-bags for a while, then slowly it all starts again...

Sandhya said...

Manju: Sometimes, I wonder how we lived before the plastic bag period!

Many States had tried to implement ban on plastic bags, but it was not easy. These people seem to try sincerely.

I feel segregation method is easy to follow.

Renie Ravin said...

Probably one of the few times I'm really proud of my hometown! I was there recently as well and was quite amazed to see the level of strictness - carrying a plastic bag around has become taboo. And to think that Chennai cannot enforce a simple helmet rule, nor get autos to use their meters. Nice post!

Sandhya said...

Renie: Welcome here, Renie! Nice to know that the people over there are very sincere in following the rules...they have set a good example for others to follow!

Destination Infinity said...

I was also pleasantly surprised. Actually I went to a shop to buy a plastic cover! But they informed me that plastic has been banned and I bought a cloth bag instead. It was after that that I found cloth bags were not very expensive and they are much more comfortable than plastic covers!! But still it is difficult to understand how the plastic, which is used in so many activities in our daily life, can be effectively banned in a whole district!! Kudos to the administration. I also wish someone could make plastic that can be bio-degradable as well!! :)

Destination Infinity

Sandhya said...

Destination Infinity: It is nice to see you here, DI! Yes, one more person confirmed this to my husband last week, about this ban on plastic and how strictly the people are implementing the ban.

I have given a link about the bio-degradable plastic in this post, but it might take sometime to come to the market. Yes, plastic has got many uses and we are accustomed to it, now.

Rajendra Ratnoo said...

Thanks to the author and all those who contributed here in discussion, on behalf of District Administration and the People of Kanyakumari District! Its really encouraging for me, my team and the people of this district to hear such nice feedback! One little correction, the plastics carry bags and cups are banned in the entire District,consisting of 1057 rural habitations, 56 Town Panchayats and 4 Municipalities (Nagercoil is one among the 4 municipalities)and not in Nagercoil alone! What made us to succeed is that we did almost a six months long campaign and this campaign had some specific strategies, such as
1.Campaign had three components- Awareness generation, Training for behavioral Change of all stakeholders and Enforcement from a preannounced date i.e. 1st April
2.Focus in the trainings beyond knowledge i.e. on change in attitude and behaviour
3. Leading by example before preaching i.e. before launching the campaign in Public Domain, First Collector and his family stopped using plastics, then entire Collector Office Staff and District Level Officers said NO to it, then we targeted the Leaders and opinion makers, including Honourable Minister for Tourism, MLAs, Municipal and Town Pt Chairpersons and gradually we went down upto ward members, SHG leaders, Traders, and sanitary workers!
4. Multiple Channels of Communication, including vernicular media, Schools, Colleges, FM Radio, SMS,Voice calls from District Collector to all citizens, through religious leaders i.e. both mass media, and interpersonal communication strategies were used!
The results of our team work are very encouraging and we are following and monitoring the Enforcement!Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board provided good support in the campaign.
We have now launched the next Campaign for waste segregation and decentralised composting wherever possible and stopping pollution of water bodies that will be liable for criminal action from 1st July! We finally dream for a Zero Garbage Kanyakumari District! Solicit support and encouragement of responsible civil society members like you!
Thanks and regards
Rajendra Ratnoo, IAS
District Collector, Kanyakumari @ Nagercoil, TN

Sandhya said...

Rajendra Ratnoo: Thank you Sir, for commenting here, to my post. I have made it into a post, so that the contents can reach many more readers.

I have added the link to the new post at the end of this post.

Dimpy Roy said...

Its a very good post. We should all do that. Named after the principle shrine of Nagaraj (or the snake-God) in the city, Nagercoil is a small, unassuming city in Tamil Nadu. The temple is dedicated to Lord Krishna, harking back to legendary tales of his birth. Check out all best hotels in Nagercoil also.

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