Finally, a plan to tackle idol immersion pollution in Delhi
The Delhi government is finalising an action plan to ensure that the Yamuna is not polluted due to idol immersion during the coming festive season this year.
While in the past, there have been attempts at controlling what is put into the rivers during the festivities, this is the first time that the government is planning a co-ordinated action plan to this effect.
The plan is likely to be implemented during Ganesha Chaturthi in September.
Senior officials of the state environment department said that the plan would help regulate the use of materials such as Plaster of Paris, chemicals and synthetic paints used in making idols. Authorities are also in the process of finalising the locations of artificial ponds, where smaller idols could be immersed, and the waste water could be sent to sewage treatment plants (STPs) for treatment. Delhi Police has been asked to chalk out routes and safety measures to be adopted on immersion day.
“A policy for registration of idol makers has been prepared and submitted to the High Court. The divisional commissioner of Delhi has already met civic bodies, district magistrates, police and the Delhi Jal Board (DJB). The role of every government agency has been fixed,” said a senior official of the environment department.
The National Green Tribunal(NGT)-appointed Yamuna pollution monitoring committee has directed that the divisional commissioner of Delhi should submit the detailed action plan by May 20. The divisional commissioner, however, did not receive calls for comment.
Earlier, reports prepared by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) had revealed that the pollution levels in the Yamuna, including the levels of metals such as chromium, iron and nickle, shot up alarmingly every year after immersions. This results in increasing the chance of toxins entering the food chain through vegetables grown on the floodplains, it said.
The registration of idol makers would be done by the civic bodies and would impose conditions such as the materials and paints which they can use and the consequences that would follow if the terms are violated. The Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) will issue guidelines on the materials that could be used for making idols.
“The NGT-appointed monitoring panel has directed that efforts should also be taken to stop entry of even smaller idols into Delhi from neighbouring states if they do not conform with the CPCB norms,” said an officer of the environment department.
While giving permission to puja samitis, police would incorporate a condition that they would have to purchase idols only from registered dealers whose details will be available with the civic bodies.
The divisional commissioner has been asked to finalise the location of artificial ponds by May so that they could be prepared to hold rainwater during the monsoon. The Delhi Jal Board would also provide water for the artificial ponds through tankers.
“The remnant water after immersion should be taken to treatment plants so that there is no seepage into the ground. The whole sequence would have to be rehearsed before July so that if any changes are needed, they could be incorporated before the actual immersion takes place during the festive season starting in September,” said the environment department official.
“Plan sound good on paper. But implementing it would be difficult, particularly with small idols. The larger ones are easier to track. Ideally no immersion should take place in Yamuna,” said Manoj Misra, converner of Yamuna Jiye Abhiyan.