Vanjangi, the new tourist attraction in the Visakhapatnam district, is facing pollution threat from tourists. People thronging the pristine greens tucked in the hills of the Eastern Ghats to experience its cool climes and the spectacular sunrise from a few viewpoints, are dumping wastes, especially plastic waste, which is turning out to be an eyesore.
Located about 100 km from Visakhapatnam city and a six-km drive from Paderu Mandal headquarters, Vanjangi has been making headlines since the last one year. The view points have been drawing hundreds of tourists on a daily basis since the last three months. Unfortunately, the overcrowding has led to a rise in plastic pollution, at the once serene village.
Recently, city-based Ken Foundation has organised a clean-up programme and ended up collecting huge amount of plastic wastes. Team of Ken Foundation along with the support of a few several local youth took up the cleaning programme from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. “We collected over 800 used plastic bottles, 500 liquor bottles, a large number of plastic plates and spoons from the surroundings. Some of the wastes were thrown in the corners,” said founder of Ken Foundation, Visakhapatnam, P. Santosh.
A few tourists said the spot lacks basic facilities, especially dustbins. “Either there should be dustbins arranged for the visitors or there should be some warning boards arranged not to spill any wastes. I have seen many visitors taking the garbage along with them during their return, but many are just dumping litter including used plastic water bottles to a side,” said P. Gowri Shankar, a tourist from Vijayawada, who recently visited Vanjangi.
B. Sai Tejesh, a tourist from Srikakulam, said that it takes at least an hour to trek to the view point. While trekking, many consume water and then dump along the route. “We have seen many youth carrying tents, organise camp fire by giving ₹200 to locals, where they conduct parties and dump liquor bottles, food wastes on the premises, he said.
Not just Vanjangi, even other tourist destinations Lambasingi, Kothapalle waterfalls and other tourism destinations have been facing threat of plastic pollution. Recently, officials from Integrated Tribal Development Agency(ITDA), Paderu MLA K. Bhagya Lakshmi, NGOs, managements of a few hotels and the Tourism Department officials had a meeting with the locals of Lambasingi expressing concern over increase in plastic pollution in the Agency areas.
Use of paper bags
The ITDA has chalked out a plan to combat plastic in a phased manner. Initially, it is gearing up to control use of plastic by creating awareness to use paper bags as alternative in shops in Agency areas. However, the ITDA is yet to take up concrete measures for waste disposal.
“There is no proper mechanism for solid waste management in the Agency. Most of the tourist areas are facing threat from pollution. The plastic wastes are dumped here and there, they reach the villages first and then to the water bodies. We have seen cattle dying by consuming plastic in a few villages,” said K. Bhanumathi of Dhaatri Foundation. She said that the Tourism Department and the ITDA must come up with measures to dispose wastes.
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