Kerala’s Binu Punchakkari is single-handedly fighting to save Vellayani Lake from plastic waste. The lake is the primary source of drinking water for at least five panchayats, yet no one showed interest in protecting it.
Besides plastic, “there is also food waste, diapers, and every other waste one can imagine. People do not realise that the water they drink comes from the same lake where they dump this waste”, says the 49-year-old.
So, every morning at 6, Binu sets out on his boat to save Vellayani.
The first time he picked up waste from the lake was when the pandemic hit. He had built a boat and was taking it out for a spin in a nearby canal when he came across clumps of waste in the water. Realising its bad condition, he consequently proceeded to clean the Vellayani lake.
A welder by profession, he also made a crane for picking up the waste from the lake along with an electric bush cutter to eliminate the weeds.
So far, he has cleared over 650 kg of plastic within four months. “I believe I have cleared nearly 90 percent of the plastic in the lake. If my sole efforts cleaned 650 kg of plastic, imagine what could have been achieved with some help and support,” he says.