Education & Training News

Plastic is Past- The New Indian Express

Express News Service

HONNAVAR (UTTARA KANNADA): It was Nagarpanchami and a large crowd had congregated at Lord Subrahmanya Temple in Huliappana Katte of Honnavar taluk. All of a sudden, a group of women from the crowd approached a passing vehicle and flagged it to a halt.

One of the women politely requested a person in the car, who was the tahsildar of Honnavar, to hand over a plastic bag in which he was carrying puja items. Even as he looked on confusedly, another woman handed out a cloth bag as a replacement.

“Are you all from Kavalakki,” asked the official and the women nodded in the affirmative. This is the story of this proud little village that has closed its door and life on plastic.

The entire Kavalakki is aware of the hazards of plastic use and is on the verge of becoming a plastic-free village. “Plastic is hazardous to the environment. It has been detrimental to our cattle and is not healthy for people too. We have shunned it,” says Lalitha, a member of Kavalakki Nagarika Vedike and Kavalakki Mahila Sanghatane.

The groups, run by the villagers, work for women’s welfare and the environment and are synonymous with their campaign against plastic. The credit for this two-year-old green movement, however, goes to Dr Hebbagilu Satyanarayana Anupama, a doctor, writer, progressive thinker and activist.

“As a doctor, I know the ills of plastic. Perhaps I cannot change the world, but at least I can start with the environment around me. My idea was to end the plastic menace, and I launched this campaign. Every Sunday, my team cleans up Kavalakki. My driver Subbaraya Gouda, a retired postmaster, Janardhan Shetty, a retired school teacher, Chandrahas Naik, and a daily-wage labourer, Girish Madival, have been taking our movement forward,” she says.

Dr Anupama, who hails from Thirthahalli in the Shivamogga district, spent most of her life in villages. She graduated from Bellary Medical College. However, a passion for literature, with a sense of feminism and liberal thought motivated her to do something big. It was destiny that brought her to Kavalakki, where she started a nursing home in 1993. After 2000, she committed herself to general practice and pursued a passion for activism and literature.

An ardent fan of the journal, Lankesh Patrike, which was founded by writer P Lankesh, during her college days, Dr Anupama, then 37, wrote her first book, Kadu Hakkiya Haadu, an anthology of poems. She has now penned 53 books. Meanwhile, her activism took her beyond the realms of creativity, and she has since initiated several movements in Kavalakki, including the construction of houses for women who have no one to look after them. She has also staged dharnas for roads, against discrimination and for availing basic facilities for the villagers.

Her drive against plastic took shape when she came across some cattle chewing on discarded plastic, and the rest is history. She now plans to take her movement to the next level and write to companies manufacturing wafers, water bottles, and soft drinks, to either use biodegradable plastic or withdraw their products.

A part of Dr Anupama’s nursing home has been converted into a library — ‘Bhagat Singh Odu Mane’, where patients can read while they wait. Her writings have involved people who have left an indelible mark. From Sufi saints to Savithri Bai Phule, who stressed on women’s education; from South American revolutionary Che Guevara, to India’s greatest revolutionary Bhagat Singh, this humble doctor has been inspired by these great personalities.

Dr Anupama’s works address the common man in the local language, says Rahmath Tarikere, former professor, at Hampi Kannada University. Filmmaker and journalist NS Shankar says her works reflect concern for the downtrodden and lend a voice to their struggles.


Dr Anupama runs a training programme to introduce students to the demography and geography of Uttara Kannada district.

No wastage
Dr Anupama purchases bags for her cause from women who stitch them using any waste cloth in Kavalakki. These women earn Rs 10 for each bag, which not only fetches them a small income but also mitigates the wastage of cloth.

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