ALAM Flora contractors tasked to clean up the city centre after Thaipusam had to deal with large quantities of broken coconuts mixed with rubbish.
Thousands of coconuts were smashed by devotees who followed the silver chariot from the Sri Maha Mariamman Temple in Jalan Tun HS Lee, Kuala Lumpur, last Saturday as it made its way to Batu Caves.
Devotees travelled 14km and passed through Jalan Sultan, Leboh Ampang, Jalan Raja Laut and Jalan Ipoh to get to the Sri Subramaniam Swamy temple in Batu Caves, Selangor.
As the coconuts were broken into tiny pieces, it was difficult for contractors to separate them, resulting in the waste ending up at the Bukit Tagar landfill.
K. Sundarasan, who followed the chariot from Kuala Lumpur, said he saw hundreds of people breaking coconuts along the journey especially in Jalan Ipoh.
“Many people waited for the last moment as the chariot crossed their path to break the coconuts, and they continued to do so in front of the chariot.
“The chariot had difficulty passing through and the FRU trucks escorting it also ran over the broken coconuts, splitting them into many pieces,’’ he said.
Sundarasan said he overheard drivers complaining that the broken coconuts slowed them down.
“Some devotees who were barefooted suffered cuts on their feet from the broken coconuts,’’ he said, adding that he did not see anyone collecting the broken coconuts or rubbish that was left behind on the roadside during the procession.
Another devotee, Rajendran Kumar, who also followed the chariot to Batu Caves, broke 108 coconuts along the stretch.
“It was a personal vow I made.
“I don’t think it was a waste (breaking 108 coconuts) and I will continue doing so,” said Rajendran, adding that he did not pick up the coconuts he had broken.
Alam Flora declined to comment on the matter.
Sri Maha Mariamman Temple Dhevasthanam committee information chief B. Vivekananda said it was disturbing that there were coconuts and rubbish left on the streets.
“Every year, we engage Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) and Alam Flora to collect the rubbish and coconuts disposed of by devotees but we are not sure why it was not collected this year,’’ he said.
Thaipusam Task Force 2019 coordinator G. Gunaraj said it was the responsibility of the devotees to pick up the coconuts they broke.
“You break it, you pick it up,’’ Gunaraj said.
He added that in India, devotees who broke coconuts would pick
up the remnants and take them home and make use of it for cooking.
“Nothing is wasted. Over here, it is disappointing that they don’t do it and worse that the coconuts end up in the landfill,’’ he said.
Global Environment Centre coordinator Dr K. Kalithasan said it was sad that such things continued to happen.
“Local authorities like DBKL, the temple committee and devotees need to be proactive to mitigate the problem,” he said.