Community operated Plastic Check post at Gulf of Mannar Biosphere Reserve
Plastic check post is established at Rameswaram Island in Ramanathapuram District, Tamil Nadu. Ramanathapuram is one of two aspirational districts of the Tamil Nadu. The district has endowed with unique marine biodiversity. It is home to south Asia and South east Asia’s first Marine Biosphere Reserve (also a Ramsar Site). Moreover, the District has very rich cultural history and one of four Char Dham is located here.
After opening of the Rameswaram -Dhanushkodi -Arichalmunai Road, there was large influx of plastic waste in the marine Environment. Around 2 crores of tourists visit Rameswaram every year.
The plastic check post is operated by community through the ‘Eco-Development Committee (EDC)’. The Plastic check post watchers check all the vehicle for plastics. They will collect the plastic and give a cloth bag( Eco-friendly) to tourists. Environment fee of 20 Rs per four-wheel vehicle is charged to make the initiative sustainable. The plastic collected is recycled and used for road construction. Recycling of waste also generates the revenue foe the check post. The check post is innovative and unique in many ways such as community-based governance, linking livelihood and Biodiversity conservation, etc.
Location of the Plastic Check post
SIGNIFICANCES OF THE AREA
One of Char Dham and very sacred place- Annually, around 2 crores of tourists visit the island.
Important Tourists location -Dhanushkodi
The Gulf of Mannar Marine National Park and Biosphere Reserve is located in the region shown in map. It is first Marine Biosphere Reserve in South and South east Asia. It is also declared as Ramsar Site in 2022.
The Gulf of Mannar is considered as “Biologists’ paradise” with over 4223 species of flora and fauna. The Gulf of Mannar is endowed with a rich variety of marine flora and fauna as it includes ecosystems like coral reefs, rocky shores, sandy beaches, mud flats, estuaries, mangrove forests, seaweed stretches and seagrass beds.
Dugong (Sea cow), Dolphin, Whale Shark, Sea cucumber, Sea Horse, Olive Ridley turtle are important species in the coastline. In the year 2021-22, 23500 Olive Ridley Turtle Hatchlings are released.
World's richest marine biodiversity, unique biological wealth and is a store house of marine diversity of global significance.
NEED OF PLASTIC CHECK POST AT DHANUSKODI
New road from Rameswaram to Dhanushkodi -Large number of tourists footfall- Around 1 Crore per annum – Huge amount of plastics deposition- Gulf of Mannar Marine National Park and Biosphere Reserve -a Ramsar site
Accumulation of plastics in sea instantly- Narrow stretch Sea shore in the Dhanushkodi area and thus plastic immediately reaches the sea
Olive Ridley Sea turtle lay their eggs on the shoreline. The Plastic and other Marine Debris is hindering the health of the turtles
Degradation of Marine ecosystem – Major threat to marine Flora and Fauna. As per recent scientific publications, 47% of the marine species are affected by the plastic debris
Plastics fed by Marine mammals and Fishes
Micro plastics is entering into the Human Food Chain
INNOVATIVE SOLUTION IMPLEMENTED
‘Community operated Plastic Check Post’
There is visible action and demonstration through the check post. It is leading the behavioral change as alternative to the plastic is provide on the spot.
WHY IS IT UNIQUE AND INNOVATIVE
The Plastic check post being operated by community through Eco development committees (EDC).
Application of ‘Polluter Pay Principle’ – Environment Fee is charged to keep the area clean
Waste to Wealth Approach – The shredded plastic is used for road construction
Convergence of Livelihood and Environment Conservation- 59 direct greens jobs and hundreds of indirect green jobs were created. The alternative to plastics, cloth bags, are provided by local Self Help Group (SHGs).
In line with ‘LiFe’ Initiative – Focus on behavior change by adopting the ecofriendly way
SUSTAINABILITY AND REPLICABILITY
Environment Fee-ensure financial Sustainability
Sustainable behavioral changes (through awareness)
Provided eco-friendly alternative (through cloth bags)
Eco-Development Committee/ Federation can be registered as society under Societies act
Easily replicable to other protected areas or Tourist areas
A second location and process to replicate the same model is started and infrastructure is created
Operation Plastic Check post at Second location (Erwadi) is started
. IMPACT ON THE STAKEHOLDERS:
Alternate livelihood for fisherwomen: SHG members is deployed in the seashore area cleaning and stitching yellow cloth bags
Clean environment for visitors
The beach area is now maintained clean and free of plastic. It will give better experience to the tourists. Till now (June 2022-March-2023) 17.8 lakh tourists were directly benefitted by this activity.
Enhancement of marine biodiversity & healthy ecosystem – Plastic free coastline and ocean is helping marine fauna. Marine animals get trapped in the plastic. Ultimately, they will get injured or die. Since January 2023, Total 16270 olive ridley Turtle eggs are collected from the Dhanushkodi area and 5081 hatchlings were released in the ocean
Fishermen: They are getting Healthy Fish Catch. Their fishing net is not getting damaged due to plastic entrapment.
More than 4220 species in Gulf of Mannar are getting benefitted. Normally 47% of species get affected by the plastic pollution in the ocean. Due to this initiative, all species in the region are now having healthy environment
1) WASTE COLLECTED: DURING LAST TEN MONTHS (JUNE 2022 – MARCH 2023)
Total waste of plastic collected (Kgs): 26877
2) Other Community Led Mass Beach Clean-up ( March 2022- March 2023): 11900 kgs
Total Plastic waste Collected: 38777 kgs
38.8 Tons of Plastic is prevented form entering Gulf of Mannar Biosphere Reserve in last 12 months.
New green jobs created (Directly): 59 direct job and hundreds of indirect jobs
Fishermen getting benefitted: 3573 operated in the area getting good plastic free fish catch
156 Local shop owners getting benefit of timely waste collection and from clean area
Marine Wildlife is saved from the plastic hazard: More than 4220 species
11 km of road is constructed with shredded plastic material