State govt to make Sagar Island no-plastic zone

Sagar Island
27 Dec 2017

The West Bengal government has initiated measures to make Sagar Island - the venue for the annual Gangasagar Mela - a plastic-free zone. The local administration has been asked to ensure that pilgrims coming to the area for the Gangasagar Mela do not the litter the place or the Ganges water with non-biodegradable materials, a senior government official said.
The Gangasagar panchayat samity has also been roped in for the cause, he said. "We have been working all round the year trying to make the area a no-plastic zone. But this will take some time," the official told PTI.
The triangular Sagar Island, situated around 130 km from Kolkata, is separated from the mainland by rivers Ganga and Muriganga on two sides and faces the Bay of Bengal on the third side. Lakhs of Hindu pilgrims gather here every year during Makar Sankranti to take a holy dip at the confluence of the Ganga and Bay of Bengal.
The administration has been distributing leaflets to the local people and the visitors to create awareness on the matter. Besides, microphones installed at five ghats in the area will be guiding people on garbage disposal, the senior official said. "Two types of bins will be placed at the ghats. While the green ones are for biodegradable garbage, the yellows will be for non-biodegradable materials," a member of the Gangasagar panchayat samity said.
The block development officers and other senior government officials have also attended gram-sabha meetings to spread the world on the initiative, he said. Besides local people, the district administration will take help from representatives of self-help groups here to keep the area clean. "This drive, initiated last year, is already showing positive results. The roads and the beaches as well as the mela ground are now clean and free of plastics," he added.
Whatever steps the state government may take to keep the island clean, the pilgrims have already started thronging the Sagar Island to avoid the last-minute rush of pilgrims to the annual Gangasagar Mela in the second week of January. Every year on Makar Sankranti (January 14), thousands of pilgrims gather at the island to take a dip at the confluence of the Ganga and Bay of Bengal and offer prayers in the Kapil Muni Temple.
A senior official of the local administration said, pilgrims visit the island almost throughout the year but those coming for the Gangasagar Mela usually do not arrive this early. "This is a new trend," he said.
Vehicles carrying pilgrims from different parts of the country were seen crowding Lot 8 at Diamond Harbour to avail of the ferry service to Kachuberia. From Kachuberia they would be proceeding to the Sagar Island. Manish Jha from Maharashtra, who has come here with his aged parents, said he wanted to avoid the mad rush.
"Since my parents are quite old, I have to be extra cautious to make sure that they do not face any inconvenience," Jha said. There was also a possibility of not getting a proper place to during the mela, he said. A regular visitor to the Gangasagar Mela, Alok Prasad from Hyderabad, said he did not want to take chances.

Praising the Mamata Banerjee ministry for the infrastructure development at Sagar Island, Prasad said, "I have been visiting the mela for around 15 years now. Things have changed for better in the last few years. And with the improvement of facilities, the number of people coming to this place has also gone up, leading to non-availability of accommodations," A senior official of the local administration said more tents will be put up this time to accommodate the pilgrims. Provision for potable and adequate supply of drinking water has been made and the area has been electrified, he said. (PTI)