Pollution body bars use of PoP in idols
The Delhi Pollution Control Committee has prohibited the use of Plaster-of-Paris in idol making. The chemical plaster is known to trigger heavy pollution in the Yamuna and water bodies after idols made out of it are immersed during festivals.
The land holding and civic agencies have also come up with a list of around 150 sites – mostly DDA and MCD parks - where artificial ponds could be constructed for immersion of smaller idols.
The sites have been selected based on availability of water, electricity and space for parking earth moving vehicles. It has also been proposed that water tankers can bring in treated water from nearest STPs to fill up the tanks, if water is not available. Each district has sent a list of 12 - 20 sites where such ponds could be constructed.
A Central Pollution Control Board report in 2018 had revealed that after immersion the level of heavy metals such as chromium, nickel and lead in the Yamuna had shot up by at least two to 11 times above permissible limits.
“Idols can be made only from natural materials as described in holy scripts. Use of clay for idol making is permitted. Use of baked clay and Plaster-of-Paris in idol making are hereby prohibited,” says a direction of the DPCC issued last week.
The direction also discourages painting of idols.
In case idols are to be painted, only water soluble and natural dyes can be used. Use of non bio-degradable chemical dyes for painting idols is prohibited.
“PoP contains chemicals such as gypsum, sulphur, potassium and magnesium, which pollutes water and affects aquatic life. The chemicals can even enter the human food chain, when fishes from such polluted water
are consumed. Chemical paints contain hazardous chemicals such as mercury, zinc oxide, chromium, lead and cadmium. These pollute the water and affect aquatic life after immersion,” said DPCC official.
As idols made out of PoP can also enter Delhi from adjoining states, police and civic agencies have been directed to check vehicles entering the national capital and seize such idols. Municipal bodies have been asked to identify selling points and stop such sale of PoP idols.
Puja Samitis have been urged to keep the height of idols less than five feet so that they could be immersed in the artificial ponds that are being planned in every district.
Local bodies have been asked to place synthetic liners at the bottom of water bodies. These liners can be removed after the immersion is over, so that no waste remains in the water bodies.
“These new measures have been proposed over and above the measures that are taken every year during the immersion process such as collection of puja leftover (flowers and decorative items) in separate bins, construction of enclosures in Yamuna for purpose of immersion among others,” said the DPCC official.