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Kolkata youths brave rain to make city bird sanctuary plastic-free

Chintamani Kar Bird Sanctuary, the venue of the drive, is home to a variety of birds, butterflies, orchids and ferns.

kolkata Updated: Jul 25, 2018 11:25 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
Members of the team clearing the sanctuary on Tuesday.(HT Photo)

While civic body workers in Kolkata and many parts of water-logged Bengal were having a tough time cleaning drainage pipes clogged by plastic waste, a routine for them during every monsoon, 35 students from various institutes braved the rains on Tuesday to free a bird sanctuary in the city of plastic waste left by visitors.

Chintamani Kar Bird Sanctuary, the venue of the drive, is located on the southern fringes of the city and is home to a variety of birds, butterflies, orchids and ferns. Some of the birds commonly sighted here include Asian Koel, brown fish owl, white throated kingfisher, white wagtail, spotted dove, red vented bulbul, black hooded oriole and oriental white eye.

Read: Plastic has turned into an environmental disaster

Eminent sculptor Chintamani Kar (1915-2005) campaigned to preserve this garden.

The drive was jointly organised by Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB), a wing of the Union ministry of environment, forest and climate change and World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).

This is part of the ‘Plastic Free Protected Area’ campaign, said Agni Mitra, regional deputy director, WCCB (eastern region).

Read: Mumbai bans plastic: A list of items you can and can’t use

The participants were divided into 10 teams that scouted for plastic wastes in different trails inside the sanctuary. “The teams managed to collect six sackful of waste,” Mitra added.

The drive was followed by an interactive session on the ‘Beat Plastic Pollution’ project of the United Nations Environment Programme and the need to ban use of single-use plastic objects from daily life.

The West Bengal legislative assembly passed a bill in 2017, introducing laws to prohibit plastic bags across the state. The bill introduced by urban development minister Firhad Hakim banned disposal of plastic bags in government as well as domestic drainage systems.

Read: Why India is taking the lead for a clean planet

To stop rampant use of plastic bags in shops and markets, the bill prohibited use of bags made out of sheets having thickness of less than 40 microns. Despite the regulation however bags made of sheets thinner than 40 microns are still used in many markets and shops.

Incidentally, plastic bags, measuring less than 50 microns, are banned in Delhi. However, markets are overflowing with them.

“One of the major reasons behind water-logging in Kolkata and other cities and towns in Bengal is plastic. Bags disposed off on streets and drains clog underground pipes. Civic authorities across the state have a tough time cleaning the sewerage lines,” a senior Kolkata Municipal Corporation official said on condition of anonymity.

Read: Plastic ban: Mumbai copes with innovation, technology

On World Environment Day, Union environment and forest minister Harsh Vardhan said that single-use plastic could be eradicated by 2022.

“It took us 20 years to eradicate polio from India. But if we have an army of volunteers it would take us less than 20 years to eradicate single-use plastic from India. We can do it by 2022,” Vardhan said while speaking at a programme.

First Published: Jul 25, 2018 11:25 IST