Bamboo water bottles will be launched in Sikkim state, the first in the country to crack down on plastic use.
MORE THAN EIGHT YEARS AFTER it became the first city in Sikkim, and possibly India, to ban packaged drinking water bottles completely, Lachen sets out to launch bamboo bottles as an alternative.
Located 129 km from Gangtok, 2750 meters above sea level, snow-capped hills, aquamarine lakes, the city attracts thousands of tourists every year.
It was the plastic bottles left by these tourists that prompted Lachen to ban them.
Sikkim was the first state in the country to take action against the use of plastic, introducing restrictive measures as early as 1998. In 2016, it banned the use of bottled drinking water in government offices, as well as at all government events.
Traditionally, Lachen was a city of apple growers. Over the years, tourism has exploded, with the city having built 30 hotels in the past 10 to 15 years. The main organizations behind the ban on bottled water are the Lachen Tourism Development Committee (LTDC), which includes the local population, and the Dzumsa, which looks like a local panchayat only found in that part of northern Sikkim. . The Dzumsa is led by the chiefs of the villages called Pipon.
Two oversight committees help enforce the ban, performing random checks on passenger vehicles entering Lachen to ensure no one is bringing bottled water.
And they got serious, if tourists are found carrying plastic bottles, the driver accompanying them, usually a local, is fined. It is 500 rupees for the first offense, 1,000 rupees for the second and 2,000 rupees for the third. The fine may increase for repeat offenders.
The Dzumsa has equipped every guesthouse, hotel and shop in the region with water filters. Water is supplied to customers in steel or aluminum bottles.
Now they want to replace plastic bottles with bamboo bottles, they already have their first 1000 bottles ready.