Pathanamthitta (Kerala), Jan 21 (IANS) A cleanliness drive at Sabarimala has rid the shrine of over 670 tonnes of organic and plastic waste left behind by pilgrims.
Pilgrims visiting the Sabarimala temple – dedicated to Lord Ayyappa and located on the river bank – believe that shedding clothes in the Pamba river helps them wash off their sins. However, the river is polluted in the process.
The 60-day cleanliness drive called ‘Mission Green Sabarimala’ was launched by the Pathanamthitta district administration to keep the temple situated in the Periyar Tiger Reserve free of plastic and litter.
During the campaign that concluded on Thursday, PET bottles and other plastic waste collected from Sabarimala and in and around the Pamba river were transported out by Chris Global firm.
According to official sources, 622 tonnes of organic matter was collected by hundreds of volunteers and 800 cleaning staff from Sabarimala for incineration.
Over 48 tonnes of plastic bottles were also collected during the two-month pilgrimage for recycling. About 35 million devotees visit the temple during the 60-day pilgrimage from November 15 to January 15.
Kudumbashree Mission volunteers, Kerala’s largest women’s self-help group, and forest department officials collected 1.8 tonnes of plastic through a road campaign whereby vehicles were intercepted to exchange plastic bags and bottles with environment-friendly cloth bags on the Pathanamthitta-Sabarimala route.
Every pilgrim to the Sabarimala shrine leaves behind at least 250 gm plastic. Last year alone, 8,750 tonnes of plastic waste, including water bottles, food wrappers, use-and-throw raincoats, carry bags and the like were dumped in the area. The 1,500-year-old temple thus faces a major environmental threat.
Apart from Kerala government agencies like the Suchitwa Mission, ‘Mission Green Sabarimala’ is supported by Kudumbashree and corporates like Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages Pvt. Ltd.