Bongaigaon (Assam), Oct 2: The Bongaigaon district administration has introduced a unique 'Plants for Plastic' initiative where one deposit plastic and gets a sapling in return.
This western district of Assam along the Brahmaputra river launched the unique campaign on Tuesday with setting up of a permanent plastic bank, which will be open on all days for the deposit of the pollutant material.
A brainchild of the Bongaigaon Deputy Commissioner Adil Khan, the 'Plants for Plastic' initiative was launched to encourage people to collect and remove plastic from their houses, commercial establishments and educational institutes.
The programme became an instant hit and on the first day itself, a large number of people deposited plastic and in return received free saplings and cloth bags.
The barter system was very well defined with anyone bringing one kilogram of plastic was given a free sapling and a cloth bag in return.
Asked about the idea, Khan said after the call by Prime Minister Narendra Modi against the single-use plastic, the administration thought of doing something innovative to encourage people to voluntarily stop using such plastic.
"We thought of giving the people something in return of dumping the plastic and the sapling idea came to our mind.
So, on the one hand, we are removing the plastic and on the other hand, protecting the environment by encouraging people to plant trees.
It is a win-win situation for all," Khan told.
However, it is not just a simple distribution of saplings like in any other government programme as the district authority is keeping record saplings given to people.
"The forest officials will visit homes to check whether the people have planted them. While distributing, we ask the people if they have a place to plant the sapling. If not, then asked them to plant the trees in the community," Khan said.
In order to dissuade people from using plastic, the District Forest Officials replaced the usual black polythene for wrapping the saplings with banana tree barks.
"This is a unique and sustainable initiative that would send out a strong message on a total ban on usage of plastic," Khan said.
The 'Plant for Plastic' event was a part of a series of awareness campaigns on solid and plastic waste management by the Bongaigaon district administration.
The administration in coordination with the municipality and Public Health Engineering department as well as members of panchayats also plans to organise other events for village and block level awareness to make the district free of plastics.