WHILE THERE is considerable talk about the need for eco-friendly idols during festivities like Ganesh Utsav and the need to protect water bodies by preventing immersion of the polluting idols, the ground realities point to the fact that people still have not woken up to the concept of eco-friendly.
Every year, the Indore Municipal Corporation and some NGOs collect as many as 15 truckloads of Ganesh idols of various sizes on the day of immersion and immerse them in the Narmada at Omkareshwar or Mortakka near here. While the MP Pollution Control Board officials aver that the pollution levels during post-immersion period is not noticeably high because of the flow of the water, they do advocate eco-friendly idols to protect the Narmada.
None of the idol manufacturers here have eco-friendly idols as they feel that there is no awareness, nor much demand. Says idol maker Babu Lal Thakur whose generations have been involved in idol making at Warehouse Road, “Previously we made idols from clay dug out from mines located on the outskirts of the City. But with the increasing population all the mines have exhausted and we have now started making idols from plaster of Paris as per public demand.’’
The only eco-friendly idols that are available in the City are brought from Pen near Pune in Maharashtra and sold by VIP Centre. These eco-friendly idols are easily dissolvable and even can be immersed in a bucket at home. The idols are made of a special kind of clay ‘Shadoo’ brought from Bhavanagar (Gujarat) and are also painted with easily dissolvable watercolour. These idols ranging between Rs 51 and Rs 1,500 are available in sizes ranging from mere six inches to two feet.
“It hardly takes 20 minutes for an idol to get dissolved and it is not harmful at all,” claims Sunil Pingle, an employee of a private company who along with his friends has set up stalls at Dhanwantri Nagar, Tilakpath, Tilak Nagar and Lokmanya Nagar.
He has been selling these idols for the past three years. Pingle says that he came across the idols while on a holiday there. He decided to bring the some idols here and last year he brought 700. This year the number has increased to 1,100.
He also has to place the order with the idol manufacturers six months in advance. “The idols are hugely popular in Maharashtra, but people here are unaware about it,” he rues. This is evident from the fact that he sells only about 1,100 idols as against the lakhs of idols made of plaster of Paris.
Studies are conducted by MP Pollution Control Board to check the pollution caused in the Narmada, but there are not enough signs of pollution in the river since dilution level is so high. “But everything has certain capacity and so does the river.
Thus measures should be taken to avoid any environmental hazard in the Narmada,” says MP Pollution Control Board Regional Officer A Mishra.
He further said that people should use idols painted with less toxic chemical colours because continuous immersion of large number of idols could have ill effects on marine life in future.
However, no awareness programmes are there except for an odd workshop like the one conducted by Centre for Environment Protection Research and Development (CEPRD) in which demonstration for the preparation of eco-friendly idols was presented.