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Lalbagh is almost plastic-free, but…

Sharath S. Srivatsa

It has kept away big-sized plastic waste but smaller ones are a bugbear



TROUBLE IN PARADISE:The botanical garden was declared a plastic-free zone in 1998 but it still has a long way to go.

BANGALORE: The menace of plastic at Lalbagh Botanical Gardens, the biggest lung space of the city, may have reduced considerably over the past few years, but the park is yet to become a “plastic-free zone”.

Though the park authorities have managed to keep away big-sized plastic waste, smaller ones such as gutkha packets and chocolate wrappers continue to be a bugbear. Visitors' utter disregard for civic sense has also kept the officials busy.

One of the earliest designated public places, the botanical garden was declared a plastic-free zone in 1998 by the Horticulture Department, according to Lalbagh Deputy Director M. Jagadish. In 2003, the Government asked the Horticulture Director to take steps to ban plastics inside Lalbagh.

Garbage bins

Over the past decade, several measures have been taken to keep the scenic park free from plastics.

The number of dustbins was increased from 150 to 350 after identifying garbage generating points. Hawking was banned and tree wardens appointed from among the regular walkers to prevent people from throwing garbage.

“For nearly two years, we distributed paper and cloth bags, pre-empting people bringing polythene bags into the park. Most of these measures have helped check plastic usage in the park [to the extent of 80 per cent],” Mr. Jagadish claimed.

No civic sense

Despite these measures, authorities continue to grapple with the problem. “Small gutkha packets, water sachets, bottles, chocolate wrappers and other small plastic items, which are difficult to collect, are thrown senselessly by visitors,” said Joint Director of Horticulture (Parks and Gardens) S. Aswath.

These should be banned at the source as it is very difficult for park authorities to search each visitor.

Lalbagh authorities also have to tackle a unique problem on the Mavalli side. Plastic bags packed with flowers (offered during puja) are thrown into the botanical gardens by some residents. “Some who don't want to dispose of the flowers in their garbage bin throw them into the park. Despite distribution of handbills among them to create awareness, bags continue to be thrown inside,” rued another senior official. Today, the number of such bags thrown into the gardens has come down from around 500 to about 200, the official said.

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