Ban plastic bags and pressure horns in Ooty: Par panel

To maintain ecological balance in Ooty and Nilgiri hills in Tamil Nadu, a parliamentary panel has recommended a host of measures including banning of plastic bags, pressure horns in automobiles and development of mass rapid transit system in the region.

A parliamentary standing committee on science,technology, environment and forest has also urged the Centre to extend financial assistance to Tamil Nadu to rejuvenate all the lakes including Ooty under the National Plan for Conservation of Aquatic Ecosystems.

The committee noted that despite steps taken by the district administration to control pollution of Ooty lake, much more needs to be done and it is imperative that constant watch is kept on the ecological health of the lake since it is a major tourist attaction.

"To maintain the ecologial balance of the Nilgiri Hills, the committee recommends that the district collector of Nilgiris should explore the viability of banning plastic bags and awareness campaigns about environmental impacts of throwing garbage, plastic bags in lakes and water bodies and public places initiated.

"Old and polluting government vehicles, major source of vehicular pollution in Ooty, should not be allowed to ply on roads of the Nilgiris and to mitigate vehicular pollution, Mass Rapid Transit System (MRTS) needs to be developed," the committee chaired by former union minister Ashwani Kumar said in its report.

The committee also recommended that 'no vehicular zone' may be earmarked during peak season when tourist flood Ooty for which improvement of network and speed of the Nilgiri Train Network should be made.

"Pressure horn in automobiles should be banned to contain noise pollution. Solid Waste management system of Ooty needs to be put in place. A lot of construction material is transported to Ooty everyday from neighbouring cities which is a major contributer of pollution.

"Transportation of construction and building materials may be regulated and people should be encouraged to build homes with locally available wood products," the committee said.

It also recommends that "Union Environment Ministry may extend financial assistance to the state authorities to rejuvenate all the lakes including prominent tourist places under the National Plan for Conservation of Aquatic Ecosystems".