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Tuesday, Oct 22, 2019

Despite ban, plastic bags, puja materials find their way into Yamuna

Even though no idol immersions happened at the ghats, the areas around were littered with plastic waste from household pujas.

delhi Updated: Oct 09, 2019 01:27 IST
Soumya Pillai
Soumya Pillai
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Hindustan Times visited two of the major ghats in the city — Kalindi Kunj and ITO — on Tuesday, where scores of devotees gather every year for the immersion of Durga idols.
Hindustan Times visited two of the major ghats in the city — Kalindi Kunj and ITO — on Tuesday, where scores of devotees gather every year for the immersion of Durga idols.(Hindustan Times/Burhaan Kinu )
         

The sides of the new Kalindi Kunj bridge was packed with plastic bags, flower petals and other puja material.

The railing of the bridge also had plastic bags tied on it. Despite the Delhi government prohibiting the immersion of Durga puja idols and other religious material in the Yamuna, devotees on Tuesday still found a way to dump their bags of religious material in the river.

Even though no idol immersions happened at the ghats, the areas around were littered with plastic waste from household pujas.

Hindustan Times visited two of the major ghats in the city — Kalindi Kunj and ITO — on Tuesday, where scores of devotees gather every year for the immersion of Durga idols. This year after the Delhi government’s order barring idol immersions, the Delhi police had closed access to these ghats and directed people to the artificial ponds that the government had dug around these ghats and in various neighbourhoods.

“We have been asking people to not dump waste in the river. But just two of us have been deployed here. If we stop one person at one end, someone comes from the other end and empties their bags into the river,” said a civil defence volunteer tasked with checking the waste dumping on the bridge.

Susheela Trivedi, who was spotted on the Kalindi Kunj bridge claimed that the pooja material, which included plastic garlands, glass and plastic frames of gods, was bio-degradable. When told otherwise she said, “One person throwing a few flower petals in the Yamuna once a year will not do any harm. What has the government done to clean up the river in all these years?”

Another devotee, Sushil Yadav, a resident of Noida Sector-45 said that he was not aware of the ban on immersion in the river.

“Since so many people were standing here to perform the rituals, we got an impression that it was allowed,” he said.

The police officials present near the artificial ponds, just 500 metres from the bridge, said that since all the deployment was made at the immersion site to manage the crowd of people gathering at the spot, civil defence volunteers from nearby toll booths were roped in to check the dumping from the bridge.

“These people (civil defence volunteers) do not have the right to penalise violators. But some authority would have at least caused some deterrence,” said a senior police official in the area.

Though fewer, such violations were also seen at the ITO bridge where people in cars stopped to dump plastic bags into the river.

Manoj Mishra, convener of Yamuna Jiye Abhiyan, said that though the river might not get “too much respite” from the prohibition on idol immersion but it has set a great model for the city.

“It was taken for granted that if idol immersion has to happen, it will happen in the Yamuna. That has changed and it is a great beginning. Attitudinal change will take time but people have shown that if given an alternative, they will move to better ways,” Mishra said.

First Published: Oct 08, 2019 21:27 IST

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