The Tamil Nadu forest department collected and cleared 100 kg of plastic waste that washed ashore on Krusadai Island in the Gulf of Mannar off Tamil Nadu.
In a statement, the forest department said that the work was carried out by a team of seven forest personnel including watchers, guards, and anti-poaching staff.
Forest department Mandapam Range officer, G Venkatesh in the statement said that the department conducts such drives every week when they patrol the island. He said that around 50 kg of waste including plastic bottles and covers is collected. This week it was double the general waste.
The forest department officials said that plastic bottles and milk sachets thrown from ships and fishing boats account for the majority of plastic waste in Mandapam and its surrounding areas.
There are seven islands under the Mandapam forest range.
Glass bottles and clothes are also collected in large numbers as waste, the forest department said in the statement. The waste is collected in sacks and brought to the mainland and handed over to the local body for disposal.
The forest department said that if the sailors and fishermen had acted responsibly without throwing the waste into the sea and stored it in the vessels and brought it to the mainland, the Mandapam islands would be free of plastic waste.
K .Bharathi, a fishermen association leader, told IANS, "We are creating awareness among the fishermen on the grave dangers associated with plastic waste, both for the flora and fauna as well as the marine wealth. The sailors also have to be more responsible while throwing the waste into the sea. They have to keep the waste in their vessels itself and bring it to the mainland for effective disposal."
However environmentalists are not impressed and K. Balamurugan of the Chennai environmental protection group told IANS, "The situation is turning from bad to worse, and even after several awareness campaigns nothing concrete is happening. The coastal police must be strict on this and impose fines proportionate to the waste being collected in the islands."
"The waste that lands up on the shore is brought by waves but an equal or more volume of waste will still be in the sea. The ecosystem is degrading and the authorities must act before it is too late. We are doing our part but action has to be taken at the ground level."