Good response to liquor bottle buyback in Nilgiris

As those running restaurants and cottages stock the empty bottles to hand them over in bulk, officials hope that there is a possibility for their numbers to go up further in the coming days.
Good response to liquor bottle buyback in Nilgiris
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COIMBATORE: ‘Buy back’ scheme of empty liquor bottles, implemented in the Nilgiris following High Court’s order, has turned the pristine hill into a much better tourism destination, almost reducing the bottle litter.

“The initiative has started delivering desired results with bottle littering in tourism spots reducing significantly. Initially, only 10 per cent of empty liquor bottles were returned to Tasmac shops. But, within a fortnight, the volume of bottles coming back to shops rose gradually to reach around 50 per cent now,” said an official, preferring anonymity.

As those running restaurants and cottages stock the empty bottles to hand them over in bulk, officials hope that there is a possibility for their numbers to go up further in the coming days.

Liquor bottles, sold in 75 shops across the district, are bar-coded with details of the shop and customers are charged Rs 10 extra for every bottle being sold since 15 May. That extra amount would be refunded when customers return those empty bottles.

“Even if reckless tourists threw away liquor bottles after consumption, the rag pickers collect those bottles and hand them over to Tasmac shops to get money. Earlier, they hardly got around Rs 50 paise per bottle and hence never cared to collect the strewn bottles,” said R Govindarajalu, Senior Regional Manager and District Revenue Officer, Tasmac- Coimbatore region.

The extent of damage caused to the environment could be known by the fact that a massive 33 tonnes of empty liquor bottles thrown along roadsides, forest areas and in open spaces were gathered by a joint team of volunteers in a week-long drive, just days before implementation of the buyback scheme.

Meanwhile, the shopkeepers in liquor outlets said that their outlets face space constraints and couldn’t store empty liquor bottles received from consumers.

“At least 13 lakh bottles were received so far under the ‘buyback’ scheme in the last 15 days and there is no space left in shops to store them. Hence these empty bottles should be cleared on a daily basis. Also, sticking bar code labels in every bottle has become a laborious task for the staff. Instead, the Nilgiris district alone should be supplied with liquor bottles with a different label by the manufacturer,” said R Chandrasekaran, Nilgiris district president of Tamil Nadu Tasmac Workers Welfare Association.

However, R Govindarajalu assured that tenders to remove the empty liquor bottles from shops were being finalized and work would begin in a couple of days. Liquor shops witnessed peak business in the last month with more than 5 lakh tourists visiting the hills for the summer festival.

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