The hue-and-cry over rising pollution in the Yamuna notwithstanding, the river got dirtier this festive season.
The Delhi High Court on Tuesday directed the Delhi government and land-owning agencies to erect 13 permanent enclosures along the Yamuna for idol immersion and other functions during the festive season. But inadequate measures meant that the damage has already been done.
Environmentalist Vinod Kumar Jain, on whose petition the court issued the order, said, “Government agencies this year erected only four enclosures. But those too weren’t properly publicised which meant that idol immersions happened at about a dozen locations.”
“What this means is that screening happened at only four locations. Worse, the post-immersion cleaning too was done only at these four locations,” he added.
Government officials, however, said that work on nine enclosures was almost complete and four others were being readied.
On Jain’s petition, the high court had, in 2006, ordered the government to stop people from throwing puja items (worship material) in the river. “The court had also ordered that 13 enclosures be erected along the Yamuna for idol immersions and disposal of the debris. But when it didn’t happen, I filed a contempt petition early this year. The government contended that it was not feasible to erect so many enclosures because of threat of theft. But when they opted for four, they should have ensured enough publicity,” Jain said.
The Delhi government this year made arrangements for immersion of idols at four ghats — Ram Ghat, Kudesai Ghat, Geeta Ghat and Kalindi Kunj.
“At these ghats and many more, nearly 4,000 idols of Goddesses Durga, Laxmi and Saraswati and Lords Ganesha and Kartik were immersed this year,” said Jain.
The government, however, is confident that its pollution-control measures are working.
“Items such as wood, plastic and toxic materials from clay idols were removed prior to immersion. Whatever was still pushed into the river was collected by the civic bodies from the banks. The irrigation and flood control department later cleaned the river,” said a senior official.
“We had held meetings with the representatives of puja committees, asking them to use only the four enclosures and use eco-friendly material for the idols,” he said.