This season, Ganpati mandals and families going to immerse the elephant lord will have help of all kinds at hand to make the process safer and greener.
From sending out special boats and lifeguards to collecting and segregating all non-degradable holy offerings before immersion, some non-governmental organisations in the city are putting more than their little bit to help the civic body manage thousands of idol immersions.
Volunteers from NGO Clean Mumbai Foundation (CMF), for instance, will distribute three plastic bags to every group entering Girgaum Chowpatty beach for visarjan (immersion).
One will be for flowers and garlands, one for plastic waste and the last for other nirmalya (religious offerings) such as incense sticks.
“We needlessly end up polluting our sea with a lot more than just idols. But these things can easily be disposed off through appropriate segregation,” said Kunti Oza, head of CMF, which initiated this drive three years ago along with NGO United Way. “The public has responded with great co-operation so far.”
At the end of the immersion, CMF usually sets up a heap of plastic waste on the beach for rag pickers to make some money. The flowers and other waste are sent in separate BMC trucks to compost pits. Oza claims several tonnes of waste are collected every year.
“This year we hope to spread ourselves on more beaches such as the Cuffe Parade beach,” said Oza.
Mahim-based non-profit Dnyanada Prabodhan, which usually puts out several boats and lifeguards in the sea off Mahim Causeway for immersions, is offering three more special boats this year.
“We heard in news reports that the recent oil spill could have long-lasting effects in the sea, and don’t want people to have direct contact with the water for too long,” said Prashant Pal, president of the organisation.
Dnyanada’s boats will offer to take smaller idols into the sea for immersion, encouraging people to stay out of the water themselves.
Pal’s NGO is also planning its annual Ganeshotsav blood donation drive differently this year. Instead of donation camps, they will have registration desks outside at least 500 pandals for those who wish to donate blood.
“We will create an online database of all the potential donors, and hospitals can tap into it when they need blood. This will help unused donor blood being wasted,” said Pal.