THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Following the success of the green protocol on the Attukal Pongala previous years, the district administration has once again proposed an eco-friendly Attukal Pongala. The decision was taken after considering the heavy reduction in the quantity of waste generated after the Pongala festival during the past three years.
According to officials, the total quantity of waste has been reduced from 350 tonnes to 80 tonnes in just three years. Buoyed by the succesful implementation, the district administration along with the city corporation, temple administration, the Food Safety Department and the Suchitwa Mission has imposed a blanket ban on plastic. The decision was taken by a high-level meeting to review the arrangements for the festival and a green protocol has been announced in 21 wards under the Corporation.
Nearly 20 lakh devotees participate in the festival every year, which will be held from February 12-21, posing a huge challenge for civic authorities. The pongala falls on February 20. As part of the protocol, devotees who take part in the Pongala are instructed only to bring steel glasses and plates, in order to limit the use of plastic at the venue. Voluntary organisations serving food and water have also been instructed to follow suit.
Steps taken in the previous years
Around 8,000 steel tumblers and 1,000 plates were arranged by the corporation to distribute to devotees who do not bring their own utensils. These items were distributed by taking a security deposit of Rs 10 for a plate and Rs 5 for a glass.
"As it is impossible for the Corporation to arrange plates and glasses for each individual, the devotees are asked to bring their own utensils which many of them followed last year. This year, the Corporation aims to reduce the target to 60 tonnes compared to the previous year which was 80 tonnes," said Anoop Roy, Corporation health supervisor.
Last year, the health inspectors and junior health inspectors conducted an inspection in their respective circle two days before the Pongala to seize the banned items from shops and voluntary organisations.
However, last time, an organisation had arrived to distribute disposable items at the end of the pongala. "This time to avoid such situations the corporation will allow only those voluntarily organisations to distribute food who will strictly follow the green protocol directives," said T Alexander, corporation health supervisor.
The proceedings were monitored round the clock from the special control room at Attukal. A clean-up drive will be mounted, as every year, to clean up the city after the devotees leave. The city corporation will mobilise 2,600 of its sanitation workers. About 80 junior health inspectors, 25 health inspectors, three health supervisors and a health officer will be assigned to monitor the whole event.
The local body will make available 20 of its own trucks along with few rented ones for ferrying out waste. By the night, the roads will be washed clean of any charred remains thereof. Soon, the corporation will call for a review meeting to strictly implement the green protocol in the coming festive season.
Plastic waste reduction
"We have been following the green protocol for the past few years owing to which bottled water, disposable plates and glass were banned at Mandapam. The trust has been distributing food to the devotees in steel utensils and plantain leaf. Hence, we were able to reduce the plastic waste to about 60 percent. To completely avoid the plastic bottle water this year water dispenser and glass will be provided in all mandapams. Also, huge tap kettles have been arranged to supply water," said Attukal Bhagavathy Temple Trust secretary.