"Rajgir is the first Buddhist historical city to be declared a polythene-free zone from December 2," an official of the tourism department said.

Rajgir, nearly 100 km from Patna, is in Nalanda district. It is the second most visited tourist place in the Buddhist circuit in the state after Bodh Gaya, considered the birthplace of Buddhism, where Gautam Buddha attained enlightenment over 2,500 years ago.

The ruins of the ancient Nalanda University, considered one of the world's first residential universities, are situated near Rajgir.

"After Rajgir was declared a polythene-free zone on Monday, all hotels, dharamshalas, shops and street vendors have been ordered to stop using polybags of more than 40 micron thickness. The violators will be punished and fined," a district official said.

"The violators will be fined Rs.100 to Rs.500," he added.

The district administration has formed two inspection teams to monitor the sale of polybags above 40 micron thickness.

According to an official in Rajgir, a number of tourists and residents have complained about the rampant littering of polybags, including at the popular hot springs, the Vishwa Shanti Stupa and other places associated with Buddhism.

"Most drains are choked with polythene while hundreds of polybags litter roads, narrow lanes and grounds," the residents complain.

Thousands of tourists, particularly those from countries with a sizable Buddhist population visit Rajgir's Shanti Stupa on the Ratnagiri Hill, the Cyclopean Wall over a hill and other destinations connected with Buddhism.

Rajgir (then Rajagriha) was the first capital of the Magadha kingdom and one of the favourite places of the Buddha.


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