Thiruvananthapuram: The ban on single-use plastic in Kerala has been about a month old. It is too early to expect a drastic reduction in the amount of plastic waste piled up or strewn across land, forests or water bodies. It has been found that the failure of the authorities to remove plastic waste along the sides of the road leading to Sabarimala even after the end of the pilgrim season is endangering the health of wild animals that inhabit the forests in the Pathanamthitta district.
Large piles of plastic wastes have been collected and stored by authorities along the sides of the Laha-Chalakayam and Kannamala-Elavunkal routes. The plastic waste, which had been collected from the areas around the popular hill shrine by labourers hired by forest officials during the pilgrim season, was dumped on the roadsides.
During the beginning of the just-concluded two-month pilgrim season, the plastic collected from the area were processed and stored properly. However, later those who had the contract for removing the plastic began to play truant and soon waste piles increased.
In areas along the Sabarimala route, most plastic waste were found to be used food parcels or beverage packs discarded apparently by pilgrims.
Animals are tempted to nibble at these plastic litter owing to saline residues likely from the dishes. Elephants that eat plastic are vulnerable to colic diseases, mainly impaction of colon.
Recently, a herd of wild elephant was seen eating the plastic waste stored along the road leading to Thalapara fort. A common sight in the area is that of monkeys and small animals eating plastic waste.