Vijay Pinjarkar, TNN
NAGPUR: In an environment-friendly move, volunteers of Satpuda Foundation, an NGO working for tiger conservation in Central India, removed three tonnes of plastic from Gullarghat, a relocated village from Melghat Tiger Reserve (MTR) in Amravati district. The student-volunteers of Akola unit of Satpuda Foundation set an example by removing the plastic and cleaning Gullarghat which was recently relocated from the 2,000 sq km tiger reserve.
The Foundation, Swawalabi Eco Club, Akola, and Akot Wildlife Division of MTR jointly organized a drive to remove plastic that was buried and left by the families for years. The plastic was used by villagers for waterproofing of roofs which were dismantled after the relocation. If left, it would have harmed wildlife and could also have hindered water percolation and conservation.
Deputy conservator of forests (DyCF) Umesh Verma explained to the volunteers how villagers conveniently used the plastic bags without understanding the repercussions. Gullarghat has been relocated near Akot. "Most bags went into the landfill and a large quantity was littered. If they had not been removed these bags would have found their way into tiger reserve waterways, threatening not only aquatic life but animals too," said Verma. If burnt, they would have released toxic fumes, he added.
"Mistaking them for food, many wild animals ingest plastic bags and die. Worse, the ingested bag remains intact even after the death and decomposition of the animal," said Amol Sawant of Satpuda Foundation, Akola. "As the forest staff deployed at Gullarghat was busy with their regular patrolling to avoid forest fires and poaching, we decided to voluntarily assist the staff. A similar campaign was conducted last year in Dhargad, another relocated village." said Harish Sharma and Ramesh Khade of Swawalabi Eco Club.
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