55,000 kg plastic waste collected from sea in 2 yrs

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While Prime Minister Narendra Modi's 'plogging' at Mamallapuram beach the other day highlights the littering of public places, the condition of the seas off the Indian coasts seems to be equally or more pitiable, as 55,000 kgs plastic waste have been collected from the sea off Kollam coast in South Kerala in hardly two years time alone.

The plastic waste, mainly comprising polythene bags and single-use bottles, is being used for road construction.

Kerala government's Harbour Engineering Department (HED) initiated the project, titled 'Suchithwa Sagaram' (Clean Sea), with the help of various central and state government agencies. The primary objective was to address the threats caused to the marine resources by the dumping of plastics in the seas.

According to HED officials, the fishermen used to complain of boats getting damaged and fishing activities being affected owing to the large quantity of the garbage, especially single-use plastic, that got stuck on the fishing boats and nets. This led to the idea of launching the project.

HED executive engineer V K Lotus told DH that in less than two years, about 55,000 kilogram of plastic waste were collected by the fishermen from sea off Saktikulangara and Neendakara coasts in Kollam district in Kerala.

Around four kms of roads were already constructed using the plastic collected from the sea, while 22,000 kgs shredded plastics were given to various agencies like the Kerala Public Works Department for road construction. The project has also provided employment to about 26 women from the fishermen community as they were engaged for segregation, washing, drying and shredding of the waste collected by the fishermen. The fishermen were doing it as a voluntary service.

Robert Pani Pillai of Friends of Marine Life (FML) said that a major chunk of waste that pollute the seas come from estuaries close to cities.

A cleanup drive conducted at an estuary at Veli in Thiruvananthapuram last year found about 11,173 plastic bottles alone in an area of 1,000 square feet. The other garbage included over thousand pieces of footwear and thermocol.

FML also conducted a day-long marine debris cleaning drive in January 2018 in Thiruvananthapuram and collected 71 kgs debris, he said.

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