The pandemic may look like the only problem ahead of us right now, but global warming and its adverse effects are still as alarming as before. We have to protect our surroundings from the damage that we ourselves cause, and for this, a sustainable and eco-friendly lifestyle is the need of the hour for every citizen. Kerala has been successful in standing out as an eco-friendly destination in India, with not only measures taken by its government but also the unique individual efforts of its people. From the world’s first solar-powered airport to the nation’s first responsible tourism project, here are a few things that make Kerala one step ahead:
The Kochi Water Metro Project which was recently inaugurated and will be fully operationalised by next year proves to be Kerala’s step forward towards an innovative and sustainable form of transport. The 747-crore project includes 23 battery-powered AC ferries with no use of fossil fuels. This project is said to lessen the carbon emission for Kochi by 16,500 tonnes. Moreover, electric autorickshaws and buses will operate as feeder services for the ferries, together making the project one of its firsts in Asia.
Electric Cars (e-cars):
As part of the Carbon Neutral Governance Project, 50 e-cars were introduced to various government offices replacing fuel-run vehicles. The vehicles run on electricity, with only accelerator and brake for operation, contributing to the reduction in carbon emission. The cars were handed over to the government by Agency for Non-conventional Energy and Rural Technology (ANERT), the government’s nodal agency for a renewable source of energy.
Kerala’s Cochin International Airport, established in 2015, is the world’s first solar-powered airport. With operations run on a renewable source of energy, the airport is also one of India’s busiest airports. For its immense contribution in reducing carbon emission and pollution, Cochin International Airport Limited has been rewarded the “Champion of the Earth Award.”
Kerala is the first state in India to start its Responsible Tourism Mission (RT Mission). Launched in 2017, the mission focuses on using tourism as a tool for the development of the village and local communities, eradicating their poverty and empowering women.
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Several tourist destinations have emerged in Kerala supporting the RT Mission, providing support to local farmers, artisans and marginalised groups.
Ban on Single-Use Plastic Products:
The State Government of Kerala had banned the use of single-use plastics from January 1, 2020. The name of the products along with their recommended substitutes was listed and a fine of Rs 10,000 (Rs 25,000 for the second time and then Rs 50,000) was imposed on the producers and retailers who didn’t comply with the rules. It is yet to be seen whether this action will turn out successful or not, but it is indeed a bold step towards a pollution-free state.
Green Booths for Elections:
As part of the Haritha Kerala Mission and the Suchitwa Mission, election booths were replaced by eco-friendly green booths for the elections. The polling booths were made completely out of bamboo and coconut fronds with messages promoting the mission written on them as well.
Initiatives by Locals:
In addition to the initiatives by the government, many of the locals have also put in their own efforts towards an eco-friendly state.
In 2019, Navaneetham Narayanan from Viyyur, Thrissur had contributed towards pollution-free elections in his own way by making eco-friendly election props. The props were made solely out of coconut fronds and plantain stems, bringing a huge difference compared to the usual props.
Another impressive effort was taken by Architect Ashams Ravi, a Thiruvananthapuram based architect, who got everyone’s attention with the house he had built for himself made out of bamboo and 90% recycled waste. Materials like iron bars, bricks, beer bottles were all recycled materials recovered from remains of demolished buildings, thus not adding up to the production. Nothing was destroyed for making the house, even the mahogany tree that seemed to come in the way was made a part of the house by building the house around it.
Similar efforts are followed by others as well in building sustainable houses that contribute less to carbon emission and promote an eco-friendly state.
Long Way to Go:
A totally pollution-free, eco-friendly state is still a long way to go, but the spirit of the government and the people together can bring Kerala closer to its vision in the coming years. The result is yet to be seen but there is always hope and this indeed makes Kerala one of India’s best eco-friendly destinations.