Malayattoor pilgrimage centre in Kerala has set an example by cutting down 10 tonnes of plastic this year after implementing Green protocol. The district Suchitwa Mission with the help of Church authorities, Kudumbasree workers and students of nearby colleges effectively implemented the Green protocol. The annual pilgrimage associated with St Thomas Church, Malayattoor began on March 10 and ended on April 10.
Kudumbasree workers and students of St Theresa’s college in Ernakulam district conducted awareness sessions among pilgrims on why they have to avoid plastic. They worked for 30 days for spreading awareness. “We gave a token of Rs 10 to the pilgrims in exchange for water bottles to carry to the hills. We gave back money to those who did not abandon their bottles at the hills,” said Siju Siju Thomas, District Coordinator of Suchitwa Mission in Ernakulam to The Logical Indian.
The volunteers have placed banners and hoardings in Kurisumudy (beginning spot of the pilgrimage) instructing people not to abandon plastic wastes on the hills. The district authorities have declared the area as a green zone.
Ernakulam district collector K Mohammed Y Safirulla has issued a notification prior to the pilgrimage season. “There is a ban on tins, cans, plastic bottles, and other materials which are not easily decomposable. Sealed or unsealed containers, plastic disposables and carry bags too cannot be taken,” the statement said.
Only four service centres were allowed to provide water for pilgrims. Other shops were not allowed to set-up in the area. An eco shop was set up at the starting point to serve coffee and water to pilgrims for free. Hundreds of shops were operating in the area during previous years.
“This time the Church has spent Rs 30 lakh for constructing a pipeline to make drinking water available for the pilgrims. They have built public taps. With all these efforts, we were able to reduce 2 lakhs of plastic bottles which might be abandoned in the hill this year. We had implemented green protocol last year also. But this year, it was more effective,” Siju added.
Earlier in July, Kerala government decided to strictly implement Green protocol policy during religious festivals. The aim was to make the festivals eco-friendly irrespective of religious lines. The state Suchitwa Mission has approached religious leaders in this regard. The Green protocol was implemented during the Attukal Pongala festival. The state Suchitwa Mission started implementing the green protocol during the 2015 National Games hosted by Kerala.
“Green Protocol is based on three principles – reduce, reuse and recycle. We have to change our habits first. We aim to reduce piles of garbage by creating awareness among devotees and promoting green practices,” said CV Joy, Suchitwa Mission Director (Operations) to The Logical Indian.