Gopalaswamy Hills to be plastic-free zone

Gopalaswamy Hills to be plastic-free zone

Strict vigilance to stop plastic items being brought inside forest

Nature care: A view of the Venugopalaswamy Temple  atop the mountain . DH photo/P Manjunath Tourists can no longer act as per their whims and fancies at the misty mountain. The government, in its order dated May 28, has fixed visiting hours and has imposed several conditions to ensure minimum disturbance to nature here.

The order comes in the backdrop of the tourist menace reaching a pinnacle, with plastic being found to be strewn almost everywhere in the forest range.

Restriction

An order by B J Hosmath, Chief Conservator of Forests, Project Tiger, Mysore, restricts visitors from entering the range before 8.30 am, while the time of exit is 4 pm.

In the order issued under Section 28 (r) of the Wildlife Protection Act 1972, the region has been declared free from plastic.

“Bringing water bottles has been banned. If brought, they should be shown at the forest checkpost on arriving and leaving and should compulsorily be taken back”, says the order.

It says that food items and snacks should not be brought in plastic bags. Even devotees coming to the Venugopalaswamy Temple have been directed to co-operate by not bringing pooja items in plastic bags.

“In case if they are brought in plastic bags, the bags should be handed over at the checkpost and cloth bags should be purchased there to carry the items,” the order says.

Thing of past

Disposing of waste of all kinds in the Hills will be a thing of the past if the order is followed strictly. Trekkers have been directed to leave the park within three hours of their entry, while those who enter by vehicles should move out within one-and-a-half hours.

The order also says that even the accommodation at the guest house atop the Hills should be given only if there is permission from the office of the Chief Conservator of Forests.

Wildlife enthusiast Praveen Ramaswamy and Himagiri Conservation society (HCS), a Gundlupet based-NGO, had taken up the issue of saving this range with the forest department. HCS was instrumental in clearing a lorry load of plastic from the forest range.

R Raghuram, field co-ordinator, HCS said that the problem had become so serious that even the scats of wild animals, especially the elephants and gaurs which are frequently sighted here, contained bits of plastic.

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