Nearly 300 volunteers from non-governmental organisations and Forest Department staff will take up a plastic clearance drive at M.M. Hills on Saturday.
This entails clearing plastic debris and waste accumulated along a 25 km to 30 km road stretch in addition to a 5 km pedestrian stretch leading to the shrine atop the hills.
Deputy Conservator of Forests V. Yedukondalu said that the plastic waste had accumulated during the pre-COVID period, especially before the second wave, and could not be removed due to the restrictions.
He said though MM Hills has been declared a plastic-free zone as it is a wild sanctuary, tourists and devotees who drive up the hills tend to drop plastic water bottles and wafers which accumulates over a period of time.
As the road leading to the main shrine criss-crosses through the wildlife sanctuary, the plastic waste is a threat to herbivore animals which browse and graze in the area, he added.
The day-long drive is expected to clear the litter along the main road and it would be packed and sent for recycling. Mr. Yedukondalu said the ban on entry of tourists and devotees to M.M. Hills during the first and the second wave ensured minimal presence during most of the period. However, there was a small window of opportunity after the first wave when the State went through graded unlocking. This period saw a surge in the number of tourists and devotees visiting M.M. Hills and the Malemahadeshwara temple which is when most of the garbage has accumulated.
Recently, hundreds of kg of plastic waste material was removed from the Kabini backwaters from both the Bandipur and Nagarahole sides. The bulk of the waste was deposited during the course of the river’s flow from Kerala to Karnataka. The authorities said the first flush of the river after the monsoon tends to bring in lot of muck and the same has to be removed lest it poses danger to wildlife.