Idol immersion shrinks Haryana’s biggest lake, pollutes groundwater

  • Megha Laroia, Hindustan Times, Gurgaon
  • Updated: Oct 26, 2015 11:14 IST
An idol that washed up on the bank of the Damdama lake. (Parveen Kumar/HT Photo)

Debris of Ganesh and Durga idols and other puja items were found floating in Damdama lake on Sunday evening despite the district administration prohibiting the immersion of idols in the waterbody.

Though the Durga Puja concluded only on Saturday, it has been almost a month since Ganesh idols were immersed. But the remains of the idols are floating on water and lying on the banks of the lake.

Damdama, the biggest lake in Haryana and a natural reservoir, is spread across 62 acres. It is now 1.7-km-wide, 6 -km-long and 20-foot-deep.

The Damdama lake does not have a definite ownership. Neither the irrigation department nor the forest department is responsible for its upkeep.

The officials of the Haryana tourism present at the site said that the maintenance of the lake was undertaken done by the sarpanch of a nearby village. The villagers will take way the idols which were made of bamboo sticks for household purposes, officials added.

Read more: Less rainwater, mining shrink Gurgaon’s Damdama Lake

The villagers, on the other hand, said that immersions in the lake have increased over the years. “We cannot stop people coming here for idol immersion. A few years back, there used to be hardly any people coming here for immersion. The lake always used to be clean at that time. But, the water is not even fit for bathing now,” Charan Singh, sarpanch of the village, said.

The district administration and the Haryana state pollution control board (HSPCB) had expressed their concern over the condition of the lake and mentioned that this year people would not be allowed to immerse plaster of paris (POP) idols in water bodies. However, there were idols floating in the middle and sides of the lake and puja items such as garlands, cloth and flowers littering the area around the lake.

Despite various campaigns for an eco-friendly immersion, people are still polluting water bodies. The Prime Minister’s Swachh Bharat Abhiyan initiative also seems to have failed during the festivities.

An official from HSPCB aid, “We have never carried out any specific survey during the festive time of the year, though we know that after immersion the lake gets more polluted. The National Green Tribunal (NGT) had ordered the district administration to create specific zones for immersions and barricades constructed to deny access from all sides. But, idols made of plaster of paris and painted with chemical colours were immersed in the lake, increasing the level of water pollution. Groundwater is also affected as the water is stagnant and all the pollutants settle at the lake bed.”

Meanwhile, Gurgaon deputy commissioner TL Satyaprakash said that they had not denied permission for anyone who wanted to immerse idols in the lake. “It is difficult to stop people who go there for immersion. We will make a better system next time. I will talk to the HSPCB and police officials regarding this,” Satyaprakash said.

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