The Thiruvananthapuram Corporation is taking all steps to ensure an eco-friendly Attukal Pongala by adhering to the green protocol.
As a first step, the civic body has asked all devotees taking part to switch to steel or earthen ware for all ‘pongala’ purposes. Those found using single-use plastic, except in unavoidable circumstances, would be fined.
Only those registered with the Corporation will be allowed to undertake refreshment, food, and water supply during the festival season. Those who intend to carry food to the festival zone and supply it to devotees should also register with the civic body.
A green army of the Corporation will visit residents, shopkeepers, and those who intend to supply food and refreshments in a bid to make them understand the importance of the green protocol. The green army will ensure that the devotees are given food in the steel utensils brought by them. The Corporation has already arranged 2,500 steel vessels and a 1,000 glasses to be given out on a nominal cost to those who need it.
Those supplying water and refreshments in adherence to the green protocol will be given awards this time too.
A store selling eco-friendly and plastic-alternative items has been set up on the Attukal temple premises. A special counter would also be set up at the Secretariat Health Circle Office near Ayurveda College.
The Corporation will collect the bricks used to make hearths and supply it to the beneficiaries of the government housing schemes. Sources said 23 people had got bricks collected by the civic body in the past two years. Those in need of bricks may file a request with the Mayor’s office with a recommendation from the ward councillor.
Private entrepreneurs and individuals are also chipping in to make the ‘pongala’ greener. Kudumbasree units are selling eco-friendly and bio-degradable utensils at their counters across the city. The Kannur-based Prakruthi is selling such articles by levying just the making cost. Also on sale are plates and glasses made of areca fronts and sugarcane stem-crush.
Corporation health standing committee chairperson I.P. Binu said those found using plastics would be penalised. The activities of those supplying food and refreshments would be videographed and photos of them taken to ascertain if plastics had been used. He said the officials would ensure that the devotees were allowed to offer ‘pongala’ even if they were violating the plastic ban and the Corporation’s waste management guidelines. Action would be taken after the festival, he added.
The Attukal Pongala is on March 9 and it will see the convergence of thousands of devotees to the temple at Attukal in Thiruvananthapuram. On the ‘pongala’ day, women make ‘payasam,’ ‘rice,’ and delicacies like ‘therali’ to propitiate the presiding deity. The entire Attukal area is declared a ‘festival zone’ and special arrangements would be in place to ensure the conduct of the 10-day festival.