THIRUVANANTHAPURAM : As many as 1.66 pieces of plastic litter are present in every square meter of sand along the coast of Kerala, according to a study carried out by city-based NGO Thanal. The study which was conducted over a period of six months has further observed that 17 crore hand-picks are required to clean the coast of Kerala.A report based on the study was handed over to Finance Minister Thomas Isaac on Tuesday. According to the study, the average weight of plastic waste along the coast is calculated at 10.31 grams per square meter while 1,057 tonnes of plastic is estimated to be present along the beaches of Kerala.
The study further observed that Malappuram is the most littered district while Alappuzha ranks the lowest in littering. The observation was made based on a district-wise litter index calculated by the survey team. Jayakumar C, executive director, Thanal submitted the study report to the minister. “Coastal belt is a sensitive corridor where the exchange of life between two different ecosystems, ocean and land, takes place. Characteristics of the aquatic ecosystem and land ecosystem merges on this belt. It is absolutely alarming to find that 17 crore plastic pieces pollute such a sensitive corridor,” said Jayakumar.
According to the organisation, it is the first time that such a baseline study is being conducted in India to estimate plastic litter along the coast. The study took samples of plastic litter from 59 locations in the coast at regular intervals of 10 km. At every location, plastic litter was collected between the shoreline and first line of vegetation or built-up land use.
Food and snacks figured as the major contributor of the plastic waste. The total number of carry bags is estimated at 85.54 lakh pieces. In spite of a statewide campaign for Green Protocol, the study finds that carry bags are finding its way into fragile environmental zones.Shibu K N who guided the study said that every stake holder in the coastal zone must take up initiatives for responsible disposal of plastic waste in order to protect the coastal zones.
Anna Joseph, program officer, Research, commented that plastic samples collected from sites were so diverse that the team faced difficulty in sorting them. Sujith Surendran, deputy program officer and Sanitta S Mathew, Green Army Fellow, who visited all nine coastal districts in the state observed that waste bins were not visible even in beaches popular for tourism.
Total number of plastic litter along Kerala coast is estimated at 17,00,32,429 pieces