In contrast to high decibel rhetoric on eco-friendly idol immersion for the last few weeks, most of the guidelines issued by Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) for idol immersion are being thrown to winds when the immersions have stared.
The CPCB guidelines specify that idols should be made from natural materials and traditional clay should be used for idol making rather than baked clay, Plaster of Paris etc. But HT found that most of the idols were made of Plaster of Paris, and synthetic colours were being used. The eco-friendly idols remained a minority.
Also, against the norms, both biodegradable and non-biodegradable material made their way into the water bodies, most of it sinking to the bottom.
According to CPCB guidelines, in case of immersion of idols in lakes or ponds, all the flowers, leaves and artificial ornaments of idols should be removed and idols should be immersed into a corner of pond or lake using removable synthetic liners in the bottom. The guidelines emphasise that materials such as flowers, garlands, paper, decorative materials on idols and prasad should not be immersed but collected separately and disposed of and there should be minimum use of Plaster of Paris, synthetic dyes or paints. But nothing of that sort happened here.
These violations happened even as National Green Tribunal's (NGT) last year directed the MP government to take measures for saving water bodies from the effects of immersion of idols.
Though MP State Pollution Control Board conducted an eco-friendly idol making workshop in July here, it has not brought any significant change in the mindset of residents. The Board officials also claim that it had written letters to all district authorities, its regional offices and civic bodies for strict implementation of the guidelines issued by Central Pollution Board regarding idol immersion.
MPSPCB regional officer Bhopal PS Bundela told HT that he also found that many idols were made of Plaster of Paris and much more needed to be done to save water bodies from the pollution due to idol immersion. "Ultimately the mindset of people has to change. We can help and even try to impose the rules, but unless people come forward, we can’t save environment. Though people have started using eco-friendly Ganesh idols, it is yet to percolate down to the masses. That will take time," he said.