Cities across India could look at Mumbai, where 1,87, 506 Ganesh idols were immersed in 2009, to know how to implement the Central Pollution Board’s (CPCB) guidelines on eco-friendly immersions of idols.
The Maharashtra Pollution Control Board and Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) had initiated eco-friendly practices for Ganesh festivities last year though the guidelines have not been made mandatory.
“Last year, we had issued detailed directives to ensure environment-friendly immersion and local bodies had designated spots for immersion,” said Environment Secretary Valsa Nair Singh. “This year, we have started dialogues with Ganesh mandals and will come out with guidelines soon.”
The state is yet to receive the CPCB’s guidelines.
Environmentalists have welcomed the initiative. “It’s a positive move,” asked Girish Raut, convener of the Indian Environment Movement, which pushed for the setting up artificial ponds. “But what happened to the chemicals and Plaster of Paris used in idols, which pollute water bodies?”
Civic officials say the CPCB’s rules will help implement the guidelines effectively. “We ensure flowers are removed before immersion but several mandals do not cooperate,” said a senior official. “The new rule will help us act against those who don’t comply.”
Vidyadhar Walawalkar from Enviro Vigil, Thane, said an ordinance alone will not help. “It’s a good move provided stakeholders are taken into confidence. Awareness has to be created,” he said.
Enviro Vigil took five years to convince people to immerse idols in the 10 artificial ponds in Thane. “Today, 90 per cent of the people immerse in the ponds,” Walawalkar said.