Mrunal Manmay Dash

In a bid to promote a plastic-free society, a woman Sarpanch in Odisha’s Nuapada district has adopted a novel way. With the help of the villagers, she made provisions to replace plastic utensils with utensils made of steel and other metals in all the community services of Kurumunda village under Bhaleswar panchayat from here on. She calls it the ‘Bartan Bank’.

The community-led initiative launched by Sarpanch Saroj Devi Aggrawal last week is aimed at cutting down the use of single-use plastic during wedding season and other social or religious celebrations in the village.

Under this initiative, villagers can collect utensils from the Bartan Bank with a marginal fee and return the same soon after holding community feasts. However, the villagers will have to bear the cost if there is any damage to the utensils.

“Our sole purpose of starting such a bank is to refrain people from using plastic. Unabated use of plastic results in sickness of cattle who ingest it, reduced fertility of farmlands, and even illness in people. Steel and aluminium utensils will help reduce the usage of plastics to some extent,” said Aggrawal.

A local of Kurumunda, Brahmananda Marar said, “We are all poor. So, we collected from Rs 50 to Rs 200, whatever we can contribute and purchased these metal utensils. Anybody from this village can take these utensils on rent at a marginal price. Plastic and thermocol plates, and glasses are health hazards. So we have decided to shun them.”

The Bartan Bank has 150 plates, 150 bowls, as many glasses and other large utensils to cook a feast for 150 people.

Aggrawal now plans to replicate the bank throughout the panchayat which has eight other villages.

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