Sundarbans becoming a no-pollution zone in elections
To ensure minimum damage to the ecosystem of the Sundarbans during this polling season, the district administration and political parties have decided to minimise carbon footprint in the islands.
Plastic flex is being replaced by banners made of cotton or jute while paper cups are being preferred over plastic cups this year.
"One of our objectives this year is to maintain a clean and green Sundarbans this polling season. It is being done both for poll campaigning by all political parties as well as during voter awareness programs and training sessions of poll officials done by us," South 24 Parganas District Magistrate Dr P B Salim said.
For transport, LPG vehicles or electric-run vans are being promoted instead of smoke-guzzling cars.
The DM, also the district election officer, mooted the idea recently in an all party meeting where he said a consensus was reached to restrict the use of plastic or any other non-biodegradable material during the campaign.
The green project is being implemented in all the 13 Assembly constituencies of South 24 Parganas district of the Sundarbans. Another portion of the archipelago, a UNESCO World Heritage site famed for its tigers and mangrove forests, lies in the adjoining North 24 Parganas district.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has already announced that the two will be combined to make a new district of Sundarbans later in the year.
"It is an eco-sensitive zone because of the rich biodiversity in the islands. Plastic waste takes a hundred years to decompose and waste disposal in the islands is difficult," Salim said.
Local Trinamool leader and MLA from Sagar Assembly seat said they were conscious of environmental damage and taking all possible steps to reduce carbon footprint during election campaigns.
Cost can however be a deterrent in implementing the initiative as the eco-friendly products cost around 20-30 per cent more.
"It is a very good step. We strongly believe that pollution control measures should be taken in those areas falling under the Coastal Regulation Zone like Sundarbans," West Bengal Pollution Control Board chairman Kalyan Rudra said.