Vadodara: The Department of Forest and Junagadh Municipal Corporation will jointly begin a cleanup drive to remove garbage from parts of Gir sanctuary, dumped there by devotees while on pilgrimage to Mount Girnar.
"Around 7.73 lakh devotees from various parts of the country participated in the four-day `Lili Parikrama` which concluded at Mount Girnar today. However, in the process, devotees left behind liquor pouches, gutkha packets, water bottles and other debris," said Aradhna Sahu, Deputy Conservator of Forest (Junagadh Range).
As part of the drive, which is expected to kick off in next two days, a huge quantity of plastic (estimated about 200 tonne) will be removed from the 36-km route of the `Parikrama`, which passed through the sanctuary that houses Asiatic lions she told.
The officer said the number of devotees who participated in the `parikrama` increased this year.
"This year, we installed dustbins enroute the parikrama and appealed to people to not litter the ground. Police department even distributed bags to devotees for storing garbage so as to maintain cleanliness of the sanctuary route," Sahu added.
She cited previous instances where plastic bags were found in the stomach of several herbivores like Chital, Sambhar and Nilgai which died in the forest. "They are main prey base for big cats," she added.
"Plastic waste when consumed by herbivores clogs their intestine which results in their death. Lions usually don`t eat plastic but the fear of them consuming it while feasting on the prey, is always there," Sahu said.
Junagadh Municipal Commissioner Vipra Bal is monitoring the cleanup operation in the area for which 50 scavengers, 15 containers, tractors, dumper and other machinery is being deployed.
Children from neighbouring schools are also participating in the drive.
"We will assist in the clean-up drive to ensure that plastic lying strewn is removed from the Sanctuary route in Gir," said BJP MLA Mahendra Mashru.