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Go green on Sikkim wheels - Environment stickers must for cars in Himalayan state

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By BIJOY GURUNG
  • Published 7.07.11
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Gangtok, July 6: Vehicles moving around in Sikkim will now have to sport “go green” stickers on their front and back windshields as part of the state forest department’s initiative to spread awareness on eco-tourism practices.

The drive will not cover vehicles registered outside the state but cars from Sikkim will have to sport the 9cmx25.5cm stickers printed on glossy recycled paper even when they go outside the Himalayan state.

The stickers, 15,000 of which have been printed for this year, bear four messages from the forest department and the WWF-India: “do not feed wild animals”, “do not pluck flowers or damage plants”, “do not litter. Dispose trash properly in garbage bins” and “respect local culture. Do not urinate in public places”.

The messages will be visible to the passengers inside the vehicles when pasted on the front screen.

Twenty-one such stickers were pasted on taxis at the Deorali taxi stand here by representatives of the forest department, East district administration, police, hoteliers, tour agents and the Gangtok Municipal Corporation.

“The forest department is conducting a series of awareness programmes on environment conservation. The ‘go green’ sticker is an important part of such series as it targets the persons coming from outside (the state),” said Pradeep Kumar, the chief conservator of forests (land use).

The process for issuing a formal notification to all types of vehicles to sport the compulsory stickers has started. “While we wait for the notification to be issued, we are going ahead with our sensitisation programme,” said conservator of forests Y.P. Gurung

“All our officers in the district will be pasting such stickers on the vehicles in a phase-wise manner for the next six months,” Gurung said.

He explained that the stickers with the “dos and don’ts” would be pasted on the left side of the front screen and would not block the driver’s visibility.

“We cannot do it alone and will be seeking help of police and tourism organisations,” said Gurung.

The conservator of forests said for the first six months the department would convince the drivers to sport the stickers.

“After six months, we may be firm and after a year, all vehicles must have such stickers. We are exploring possibilities like checking the stickers when vehicles are inspected annually by the motor vehicles division,” said the conservator of forests.

Gurung said such drives would not be extended to vehicles coming from outside to Sikkim.

“But when our vehicles go outside Sikkim with ‘go green’ stickers, people will get the message that we are doing our best to protect environment in Sikkim,” he said.

WWF-India Sikkim coordinator Priyadarshani Shrestha said the drive was a result of a pilot project undertaken in December. Environment awareness stickers were put on vehicles taking tourists to Chhangu Lake in East Sikkim.

“After a few months, we interviewed drivers and tourists about the sticker campaign and we got a positive response. When tourists read the messages printed on the stickers while travelling, they asked drivers about it, and started looking for bins when they needed to discard their garbage,” said Shrestha.

Taxi drivers said they did not have objections to green stickers, as they don’t block visibility while driving.