Sri Pada is chocking with Plastics

A mountain of plastic at Sri Pada (courtesy CENS)

Kshama Ranawana

The Centre for Environmental and Nature Studies, (CENS) is calling on the government to ban the use of plastics in Sri Pada.   Also known as Adam’s Peak, Sri Pada is considered a sacred site by Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims and Christians, and attracts millions of pilgrims each year.  Usually, the highest numbers climbing this 2244m high mountain is seen between December and April, though it attracts tourists and pilgrims alike throughout the year.

The CENS concerns stems from the vast amount of plastics found around the pilgrim site.  In 2019, there were 2 million pilgrims to Sri Pada says Dr. Ravindra Kariyawasam, addressing a press conference at the Centre for Society and Religion, Colombo on February 10th.   “If each one leaves behind just one plastic bottle, that’s 2 million plastics destroying the environment,’ he said.

Even though volunteers move in to collect the trash left behind by the visitors, they can only clear about one lakh.  And that is only those found along the pathways and easily accessible points.  A larger part of the plastics end up in outlying areas that cannot be reached, he said.

Owing to the massive amount of plastics left around during the pilgrim season .between 2003 and 2009, the government stopped the use of plastics at Sri Pada, he said. Instead, pilgrims were given cloth bags.  That was in 2010, but the practice has stopped since then.

Apart from its cultural and religious significance, Sri Pada is, like Sinharaja a biodiversity hotspot and home to many an endemic species.

While volunteers are doing their part in saving the environment, it is up to the government, said Dr. Kariyawasam to introduce the ban and ensure it is not violated, and prevent further damage.

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