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How Mount Abu Became A Strictly No Plastic Zone

IAS officer Ravindra Goswami initiated the idea of a plastic-free Mount Abu when he was the SDM there. He gave concrete shape to the idea by organising various awareness campaigns and launching new alternatives to plastic. The public responded well to the model project and Mount Abu became a plastic free zone within few months.
Indian Masterminds Stories

IAS officer Ravindra Goswami is credited with paving the way for a plastic-free Mount Abu. He started a model project in 2019, when he was the SDM of Mount Abu, to turn the popular hill station into a plastic-free zone. 

In an exclusive conversation with Indian Masterminds, Mr. Ravindra Goswami, who is now Joint Secretary in the Department of Personnel, Government of Rajasthan, shared details about the project. 

We also spoke to the current SDM of Mount Abu, Mr. Kanishak Kataria, to know about the present scenario in Mount Abu, whether it is still a plastic-free zone or not.

An oath to make Mt. Abu plastic-free

PLASTIC-FREE MOUNT ABU

As Mount Abu is an eco-sensitive zone, Mr. Ravindra Goswami initiated the step to make it a completely plastic-free zone by implementing a complete ban on plastic usage in all the local bodies and municipal areas. He launched a model project in coordination with the government departments and the local residents of the district,

The Nagar Palika of Mount Abu took the initiative of enabling the alternative of plastic and providing them to the local people.

“The Municipal Board conducted a meeting and decided some major rates of imposing penalties on plastic usage and, also, find alternatives for plastic. From 15 August 2019, all kinds of plastic carry bags, plastic disposal products, wrappers, etc., were completely banned in Mount Abu,” Mr. Goswami said.

CLEANING NAKKI LAKE

To make the drive more successful, some other important steps were taken by the administration, like cleaning the famous Nakki Lake. On the morning of 7 July 2019, more than 700 people took an oath to make the lake plastic-free. 

“The Nagar Palika, Forest Department, CRPF, Army, Airforce, Hotel Association of Mount Abu, Municipal Board, Brahmakumaris, Scouts, and the residents got together and cleaned the Nakki lake and collected around 12 tons of plastic. After that, we could declare Nakki as a plastic-free zone.”

Cleaning Lake Nakki

SPREADING AWARENESS

The officer said that all the efforts would have gone in vain if the local people themselves did not understand the importance of saying no to plastic. So, to spread awareness among them and make them understand the importance of a plastic ban, the Municipal Corporation launched an ‘Awareness Van’.

“The van moved around all the areas in Mount Abu with audio system and banners to spread messages of awareness. This attracted the attention of the tourists, as well,” he said.

Awareness van

SCHOOL COMPETITIONS

To create awareness among the school children and get them involved in the project, the Nagar Palika organized several competitions in schools regarding the harm to the environment caused by plastic and why its ban was necessary to protect the forests as well. 

“Many competitions were organized by the Municipal Corporation on essay writing, drawing, debate, rangoli making, poster making, etc. in schools.”

THE HOTEL INDUSTRY JOINED IN

The hotel industry also jumped into the fray and organized several events in the district in support of the plastic ban. The Mount Abu Hotel Association (MAHA) organized a seminar in which all the hotels declared their premises as No plastic Zone. They also distributed 5000 cloth bags to residents.

MAHA’s initiative

ROPING IN STREET VENDORS 

The Municipal Corporation also distributed cloth bags in each household and to all the street vendors of the district. The vendors were also sensitized in a meeting at the district office and were asked to avoid using plastic bags at any cost.

Distribution of cloth bags

Three Reverse Vending Machines (RVM) were installed at different places in the district, where a user can crush a plastic bottle in exchange for offers. This proved to be a popular incentive for people. 

Thus, with the involvement of all, the administration was able to declare Mount Abu a plastic-free zone within a period of a few months.

RVM Machine

STILL GOING STRONG

But that was in 2019. A lot of water has flown under the bridge since then. The officer who initiated the project was also transferred out of the district. 

So, is Mount Abu still a plastic-free zone? Indian Masterminds got in touch with the current SDM of Mount Abu, Mr. Kanishak Kataria, to find out about the present scenario. Mr. Kataria replied in the affirmative, saying, “Mr. Ravindra Goswami’s initiative is still going strong in the district. Mount Abu has successfully been a plastic-free city for two years now and hopefully will remain the same.” 


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