The government said the decision will act as a deterrent to those throwing garbage into the water bodies. “We are very confident about people’s will. They want our rivers to be rejuvenated and the civil society has been actively working towards the rejuvenation of many water bodies. And there should be a law which will uphold their will and effort. That’s the reason behind this Ordinance. I am sure it will act as a deterrent,” Mathew T Thomas, Irrigation Minister of Kerala told NDTV.
The move comes at a time when the state is witnessing ecological destruction in the form of pollution of water bodies. Ubiquitous sightings of plastic bottles and wrappers floating on water bodies have not only spoiled the beauty of these water bodies, but has also affected those who rely on them for their livelihood.
“We don’t get fish anymore. People eat ice cream and throw its cover into the lake. They drink and throw the bottles into the lake. It’s tough to now get adequate daily catch,” Silent Joy, a 38-year-old fisherman complained.
But many have also questioned the implementation of the new law. “Government’s decision is not practical. How will they charge fine without knowing who threw the waste,” asked PP Ramachandran. The 55-year-old has been living besides a canal which is completely blocked with waste.
Sheetal Elizabeth Shaji, a student who lives near Vellayani, a fresh water lake in Thiruvananthapuram, said she was optimistic that such a move will help preserve the beauty of water bodies. “We need measures like these. This is a fresh water lake and popular with tourists but waste is dumped right into it. It’s harmful for aquatic animals as well human beings,” shee said. But Vaishakh A, another student feels differently. “I agree with the government’s decision. But the government also has to provide places to throw the waste. Where should we throw it. There are no systems in place for public waste management even in Kerala’s capital. If we have that in place, of course people won’t throw waste into water bodies.”