Plastic bags, bottles endangering Sri Pada biodiversity – CENS

The biodiversity of Sri Pada (Adam’s Peak) and its surroundings are at risk due to pilgrims dumping plastic bottles and polythene in the area, environmentalists said.

Centre for Environment and Nature Studies (CENS) Convenor Dr Ravindra Kariyawasam told reporters today that though carrying polythene and plastic bottles in the Sri Pada pilgrimage site was banned in 2010, over the past few years, the practice has gradually resumed.

“Sri Pada is home to eight percent of the biodiversity endemic to Sri Lanka. Last year alone, two million people summited Sri Pada and if we assume that each person out of those two million dumped one plastic bottle in the area, two million bottles would be left by the time the season is over,” he said.

Although volunteer groups collect the plastic bottles that are left behind, Kariyawasam said, they can collect only around 100,000 to 150, 000 bottles because some nooks and corners of the mountain are out of reach.

“We collected plastic bottles in Sri Pada from 2003 to 2009. In 2010, the government banned polythene at the site and provided pilgrims with cloth bags, but that only lasted one year. If you go to the top of Adam’s Peak you will see how polythene bags have been dumped everywhere. If you go to Nallathanniya you’ll see how the lower mountain ranges are covered with polythene,” he said.

The CENS convenor said the accumulating polythene damages the rich biodiversity of the area.

“It is, therefore, the responsibility of the government to ban polythene and plastic on the Sri Pada pilgrimage,” he added.

Edited by Himal Kotelawala

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