The Kerala High Court has asked the temple to enforce the order from next pilgrimage season.

HC imposes total plastic ban in Sabarimala including in the
news Plastic ban Monday, July 23, 2018 - 15:54

The Kerala High Court on Monday banned the use of plastic in and around the Sabarimala shrine in Pathanamthitta district of Kerala.  

The order also imposes a complete ban on plastic in the Irumudikettu or Pallikettu – the two-layered package in which all pilgrims of Sabarimala carry offerings for the deity. 

A division bench of the Kerala High Court, comprising of Justices PR Ramachandran and Devan Ramachandran, said that only bio-degradable products can be used by pilgrims and others, adding that that only such bio-degradable products approved by priests can be carried in the Irumudikettu. 

The High Court has asked the temple to enforce the order from the next pilgrimage season. 

The court based its order on a report filed by M Manoj, Special Commissioner to the Ayyappa shrine in Sabarimala. 

Two years ago, the court had banned pet bottles in Sabarimala but there had been complaints that the Travancore Devaswom Temple Board, the government and the local police had not implemented the ban properly. 

The commissioner, in his report, had said that tons of plastic waste accumulate every year during the pilgrimage season in the reserve forests surrounding the temple.  

The Commissioner had told the court that merely banning plastic bottles would not solve the issue, which had begun to pose a threat to wildlife around and recommended that there should be a complete plastic ban. 

Pilgrims normally carry ghee in plastic bags in the Irumudikettu to offer to the deity. In November 2015, a wild elephant had died in Pampa, the starting point of the pilgrimage, after eating plastic. In December 2015, a Sambar deer had died in a waterhole on the trekking route. 

The confirmation that both animals had died due to the consumption of plastic had also led to the special commissioner recommending a complete ban on plastic. 

Lamenting the ‘excessive commercialisation of pilgrimage activities,’ the report had pointed fingers at various agencies such as the Sabarimala Sanitation Society (SSS) of not cleaning up the plastic waste properly. 

In 2016, the HC had asked the Special Commissioner that all the accumulated waste, including plastic waste, is cleared in a scientific manner but reports in the last two years have suggested that even the ban on plastic water bottles had not been followed in the spirit of the letter.