Makaibari Tea Estate against Plastic carry bags

Makaibari tea estate, located 3 km from here, is waging a war against plastic carry bags with the help of children and tourists.

In a bid to keep the garden clean and green, the management has asked children from seven villages to collect plastic bags and dry cells (torch batteries) accumulated in the area, promising to buy back the non-biodegradable waste at the rate of Rs 2 per kg.

Every Sunday, the children are coming to the garden factory with their collection to get it weighed by the authorities. Apart from the money, they are also given sweets from time to time to ensure that their spirit does not flag.

The accumulated waste is then loaded on a tractor and sent to a recycling factory in Siliguri.

Deputy manager of the garden Debarata Majumdar said this was a 10-year-old plan, revived recently. “Earlier, the children and their parents did not take the project seriously. We could not make them realise that plastics bags are harmful for both people and tea bushes,” he said.

So the garden authorities decided to take the help of tourists who come and stay with the labourers. “We asked the tourists to help us spread awareness since they spend days living with them in their houses like a member of the family. The plan worked. Now, the parents, too, pick up plastic bags and other stuff along with their wards though we purchase the waste only from the children,” Majumdar said.

“Whatever the children earn, we let them keep as pocket money,” said Robin Khawas, a worker at the garden.

The deputy manager said Makaibari’s location made it more susceptible to the plastic menace than other gardens in the hills. He pointed out that the garden lies beside the Pankhabari route used by most vehicles returning to Siliguri from Darjeeling. “The people travelling on this road throw lot of garbage out of their vehicles and these accumulate around the tea bushes. This is why we started this project,” Majumdar said.