Plastic Not Allowed! Now Kulhads Mandatory At All Railway Stations For Serving Tea

Plastic Not Allowed! Now Kulhads Mandatory At All Railway Stations For Serving Tea
Plastic Not Allowed! Now Kulhads Mandatory At All Railway Stations For Serving Tea

While plastic is an important material for our economy, having multiple applications to modern day living, plastic can take thousands of years to biodegrade.

It takes up valuable space in landfill sites and is polluting the natural environment, having a significant impact on our oceans. Hence, more and more individuals, societies, organizations, economies and governments are trying to reduce plastic use.

One such move was made by Indian railways, towards reducing the use of plastic tea cups. Speaking at an event organized at the Digawara railway station in Rajasthan’s Alwar district Railway minister, Piyush Goyal on Sunday said that teacups will soon be replaced by  environment friendly “kulhads” at all railway stations. This initiative will contribute towards a plastic free India.

The circular has been issued by the board to the chief commercial managers of Northern Railway and the North Eastern Railway.

“Zonal railways and the IRCTC are advised to take necessary action to ensure use of locally produced, environmentally savvy terracotta products like ‘kulhads’, glasses and plates for serving items to passengers through all static units at Varanasi and Raebareli railway stations with immediate effect so that local terracotta product manufacturers could easily market their products,” the circular stated.

The proposal was given by the chairman of Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) to Goyal in December last year, suggesting that Varanasi and Raebareli stations be used to generate employment for potters around the area.

What is a “Kulhad”?

To anyone who doesn’t know what a kulhad is: a kulhad is an earthen pot and a 100 percent biodegradable, economical and much cheaper than glass or plastic.

Kulhad will not only serve the purpose of enhancing the aroma, flavour and keeping the tea warmer but also as one step towards the greater vision of plastic free India

Currently 400 railway stations are already giving tea in kulhads, but railways plans to totally replace plastic cups with kulhads in future. Environmental friendliness and employment opportunities for the domestic market are the reasons behind this move.

However, “Kulhads” are not new to railways and rather than introduction it is a revival.

A brief history of “Kulhads”:-

In a move to uplift the pottery industry and inject some earthy flavours to the passengers eventually giving them a true “desi” experience, the former railway minister introduced kulhads.

However the idea flopped in his own backyard – East Central Railway in Bihar.

The reasons for the failure were that “kulhads” were used as a “showpiece” and they sold tea in either glass or plastic tumblers, unauthorized vendors defaulting the rule, many licensed vendors said that people did not prefer “kulhads” for being less hygienic, feels less prestigious and also costs more than tea in plastic or Styrofoam cup.

For the campaign to avoid the fate it met back in 2004, railways should take utmost care of these things and learn from history, as those who don’t are condemned to repeat it.

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