plastic calf

It was amazing to see Radha totally unfazed as the vet was literally pulling things out of her stomach. When the operation “Plastic” began, the vet started pulling out shreds of plastic. After about an hour of pulling, the vet said its only 20% done! Wonder how many years the poor creature was feeding on plastic. As the plastic had accumulated for over years in her stomach, it had converted into a huge lump. So pulling it out was a big challenge. But the vet was very confident and he did manage to pull all of it out. It was an astounding 30Kgs of plastic, and a steel spoon and coin that was stuck in her stomach all these months. Radha looked happy and relieved as she delivered the “Plastic calf”. Though the plastic was out, her digestive system was still a cause of concern. All the years of plastic contamination had practically ruined her system, so things were still not out of danger and much care would have to be taken.

In India, a land where the cows are revered and worshiped, unfortunately today the number of such cases has risen sharply. Plastic has become literally ubiquitous, thanks to the convenience and the economic advantages it offers. But like all modern conveniences, plastic also comes at a price. Unlike natural alternatives, plastic is not biodegradable. It takes literally centuries for it to breakdown and there is no alternative of disposing it other than burning it or dumping in a landfill. But that also poses many serious environmental repercussions. Owing to all these factors, plastic is banned in many parts of the world. Even in India there is a ban on the use of plastic in many places but in spite of repeated warnings both the authorities and the citizens have conveniently disregarded this injunction. Many people dump large quantities of plastic indiscriminately in open areas, road sides, grasslands and parks. Often much of the domestic organic waste like fruit and vegetable scraps, leftovers etc., is disposed off in plastic covers. And the poor creatures feed on them along with the plastic cover. Even Radha was a victim of such insensitive plastic use.

About a decade ago in India there was a spree of mysterious death of many stray animals. Authorities initially thought it was some mysterious disease. But later the cause was found to be excessive consumption of plastic. With booming economy, a lot of grasslands and cow grazing areas in India are now being converted into real estates and industrial parks. With unavailability of free grass, many cattle owners are forced to abandon their animals, unable to bear the mounting costs of cattle feed. These animals end up on the streets and survive by feeding off the garbage cans and other forms of trash. And in the process they consume such dangerously high levels of plastic that they end up dying a miserably painful death. Post this incident the government has imposed a ban on plastic below a certain micron level thickness, but unfortunately this ban has not yet been implemented seriously. One can still very easily find plastic bags being given openly by all shopkeepers and roadside vendors. Its high time we all take a firm stand against indiscriminate use of plastic and curb this plastic evil.

It’s been three days since the operation and Radha’s situation had still not improved. The next morning the vet was called for again. He saw her and found her situation very critical. He was getting frail as her digestive system was not functioning. Just hours after the vet’s visit Radha died. It was painful for all of us, thinking what she had to undergo, for no fault of hers. In her death she taught us all a very important lesson, although a very painful lesson it may be.

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