Bags that tamed plastic in big cat zone
The Times Of India
AHMEDABAD: Their aim is to keep Sasan free of plastics. The last abode of the Asiatic lion draws tourists from all over the world and piles of dumped rubbish and plastic bags in the village have always remained an eyesore for the visitors. So, the members of Nari Shakti Gruh Udyog Mandal-Sasan Gir (NSGUM) took the vow to keep the area clean and completely stop use of plastic bags in the area.
"Not very long back, plastic bags could be found littered everywhere in Gir and Devaliya. We felt very bad as it gave very bad impression to the visitors, so when former deputy conservator of forest Ram Ratan Nala suggested that the villagers should come forward and do something to keep the area free of plastic, we decided to adopt a two-pronged approach," said Nazmaben Juma Katiya, the sarpanch of Sasan village.
The idea was to keep the forest free of plastic waste and at the same time generate income for the 90-odd households in the last abode of the Asiatic lion. The members of the Mandal started providing cloth bags as an alternative to plastic bags to all shopkeepers at Rs 10 per bag. "Now, it has been made mandatory for the shopkeepers not to use plastic bags and at the same time, when a tourist asks for a bag, give them our cloth bag at Rs 10 per bag. The step has almost completely removed plastic bags from our area and has generated jobs for us," added Nazmaben.
"When it was brought to our notice that some of the shopkeepers have not been adhering to the rule, we passed a resolution that those violating the no-plastic norm will have to pay Rs 500 as fine," she said.
Madhu Chudasama, who leads the NSGUM, said, "We are a group of 90 women who in their free time make these bags. Plastic was posing a big environmental hazard for every villager, even animals. We found that the cows in the village were eating plastic," she said. "Now, many tourists come specially to purchase these bags directly from the group," she added.
Former DCF Ram Ratan Nala said 40,000 cloth bags have been sold so far. "Women stitching bags get Rs 4 per bag. Of the Rs 10 which is paid for the cloth bag, Re 1 goes to the panchayat for undertaking development works. The group, with the help of forest department, is also in talks with big malls in the state and many of them have agreed to purchase these bags from the group," said Nala. He said that many garment industries are ready to give their waste cloth free of cost to the group for making the environment-friendly bags.
Latha Hingu of the NSGUM said, "The bags have become so popular that even traders from Talala are coming to purchase these bags. "During the tourist season, we witness an increase in sale. The panchayat has given the group a room and it is from where we operate. We also have our logo which is printed on the bag. The logo has an imprint of an lioness."