The Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD), the body that runs one of India's richest temples announced an eco initiative on the occasion of World Environment Day today, as part of a larger plan to make the abode of Lord Venkateswara a plastic-free zone. The trust picked an Ahmedabad-based firm to supply bio-degradable bags that will now carry the famed Tirupati laddu prasadam.
The plastic-free zone idea was mooted a decade ago by then- Executive Officer Subba Rao. "On an average, 35,000 plastic bags, each costing Rs 2, are used daily at the laddu counters. The TTD board had called in for bids to procure 3.6 crore bio-degradable bags," said a TTD official.
Two companies, one Chennai-based, and another from Ahmedabad were shortlisted on technical and cost effective grounds. Ugandhar Reddy, senior executive officer of TTD said, "Around 2.5 to 3 lakh laddus are prepared each day for devotees, each about 162 g to 170 g in weight. Around 1,500 bigger laddus weighing between 450 g to 700 g are made especially for VVIPs and protocol devotees, which are handed over within the temple at Rs 100 per piece. All of these will now be given in bio-degradable carry bags."
TTD officials were looking for cost-efficient bags of thick quality to reduce the carbon footprint of the temple town where plastic is widely used by approximately 1,000 commercial establishments that it houses. According to Reddy, a recent estimate put the garbage disposed in Tirumala at between 35 and 50 tonnes per day, which includes a monthly 18 to 24 tonnes of plastic. Around two to three tonnes of plastic waste are collected along the two ghat roads and footpaths that wind up to the shrine, and roads leading to Papanasanam, Akasaganaga, Srivari Padalu on Narayanagiri hills, the officer said.
The Ahmedabad firm's director, Dipack Sangghvi said, "Our company is blessed to be given such a chance. This would be our service to all devotees -- it's our way of contributing in a small way to keep the place environment-friendly." Last month, TTD placed an order with the firm for 25 lakh bio-degradable bags, of which 12.5 lakh were supplied. Further orders were put on hold with a plan to float fresh tenders this month.
Each biodegradable is of 30-micron thickness, and remains intact even after coming in contact with ghee or oil, which the laddus contain. It decomposes within 180 days of coming in contact with soil. Each bag costs between Rs 4 and Rs 5.