A project to clean the sea, coast

The E280-crore project will be implemented along a 175-km-long coastal stretch, covering Kasaragod, Kannur, Malappuram and Kozhikode, over a period of four years

Published: 05th June 2020 07:02 AM  |   Last Updated: 05th June 2020 07:02 AM   |  A+A-

Plastic waste that washed ashore at Veli Beach , File Pic

Express News Service

KOCHI: Plastic waste pollution and its impact on marine life and the human food chain is a globally identified potential health hazard. Kerala generates around 450 tonnes of plastic per day and only a small portion of it gets recycled. More than 70 per cent of it ends up in the sea. According to Suchitwa Mission, on average, a family in the state generates 60 grams of plastic waste everyday.

The role played by plastic waste in worsening the back-to-back floods in the state pushed authorities to focus on the issue. Unfortunately, a large chunk of waste ends up in streams and rivers, until it is discharged into the sea causing pollution. A team of NGOs, as part of a special initiative, conducted a sea-diving drive on Kovalam beach and scooped up around 71kg of plastic debris. Bottles, caps, food packets, sanitary products, ghost nets and other discarded items were found among the debris. Likewise, in the past three years, fishermen who venture into the sea have brought back tonnes of plastic waste to the harbour at Shakthikulangara in Kollam as part of Suchitwa Sagaram -- an initiative of the state government. The waste is then segregated, shredded, auctioned and used for road construction.

A hopeful project
Despite spending `2.5 crore over two years on anti-plastic waste campaigns, the state government has failed to reduce plastic pollution. Now, the government has come up with an Integrated Coastal Zone Management Project (ICZMP), which is funded by the World Bank and primarily aims at removing marine litter and ghost nets from the coasts of Kerala. The `280-crore project will be implemented along a 175-km-long coastal stretch, covering Kasaragod, Kannur, Malappuram and Kozhikode, over a period of four years.

“The World Bank has approved the detailed project report and even sanctioned `30 lakh for setting up the state project implementation unit. We will begin implementing the project from next month. Besides the four years to implement the project, the World Bank will monitor the initiative for four more years to ensure the initiative is sustainable,” said P Kalaiarasan, additional project director, Kerala Centre for Integrated Coastal Management (KCICM). Kerala State Coastal Area Development Corporation (KSCADC) will be the nodal agency for the project.

He said the state will chip in with 20 per cent of the total project cost. “Fifty per cent of the fund will be provided by the World Bank and 30 per cent by the Centre. We have listed 74 activities as part of the project and will implement it with the help of various government departments. The primary aim is to minimise the quantum of plastic pollution in the sea by collecting it manually and recycling it,” said P Kalaiarasan. He also said that around 25 nautical miles of the sea, which falls under the CRZ area, will be cleaned up. Abandoned, lost and discarded fishing gear (ALDFG) or ghost net is another major concern that needs to be addressed. 

Efforts on to revive ‘Suchitwa Sagaram‘
Ever since Suchitwa Sagaram scheme’s launch in 2017, fishermen have collected around 70 tonnes of plastic waste from the ocean. However, the project has been facing setback because of fund crunch.According to Krishnan B T V, chief engineer, harbour engineering department, the fund crunch issue has been resolved. “A London-based NGO has promised funds for running the project. Also, the government recently released `25 lakh for the purpose.

We had to stall the project due to the pandemic,” said Krishnan. Around 40km of rural roads have been laid using plastic waste collected from the sea, he added. The project is implemented by various departments, including harbour engineering, fisheries, local body, and other agencies like KSCADC, Suchitwa Mission, NETFISH, MPEDA and Kerala State Fishing Boat Owners Association. 

Objectives of ICZMP
●    Protection of environment through effective waste management
●    To bring down the amount of plastic waste in the sea
●    To save aquatic life from 
various plastic pollutants
●    To make the beaches litter free
●    To convert plastic waste into useful commodity

Issues caused by marine plastic waste 
Over 300 million tonnes of plastic waste are produced every year 
At least eight million tonnes of plastic end up in the ocean every year and make up for 80 per cent of all marine debris
Marine species ingest or get entangled in plastic debris
Marine wildlife like seabirds, whales, fishes and turtles mistake plastic waste for preys and end up dying of starvation as their stomachs are filled with plastic debris
Floating plastic in the ocean also contributes to the spread of invasive marine organisms and bacteria, which disrupts the ecosystem
Plastic waste threatens food safety and quality, human health, coastal tourism etc

reasons for plastic waste accumulation  in water-bodies 
 Lack of awareness
 Lack of enforcement
 Lack of facilities 
 Low value for scrap and recycled plastic
 Lack of recycling facilities


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