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Saturday, Sep 21, 2019

Gurugram puja committees join hands to keep Yamuna clean

JPC was formed last year to organise idol immersions in an environmentally responsible way by not submerging idols in rivers and natural ponds.

gurugram Updated: Sep 12, 2019 11:34 IST
Sharanya Munsi
Sharanya Munsi
Hindustan Times, Gurugram
Devotees immerse idol goddess Durga in Yamuna river at Kalindi Kunj.
Devotees immerse idol goddess Durga in Yamuna river at Kalindi Kunj. (Mohd Zakir/HT PHOTO)
         

With the Durga Puja just a month away, an increasing number of organising committees in city are banding together under the banner of the Joint Puja Committee (JPC) to ensure that neither the Yamuna nor any local water body is polluted during immersion on October 12.

The JPC was formed last year to organise idol immersions in an environmentally responsible way by not submerging idols in rivers and natural ponds. Last year, they helped 13 puja committees keep it clean, and this year more committees have shown interest in adopting eco-immersions—submerging idols in manmade pits, dug specifically for the purpose.

“Last year, 13 committees opted to immerse idols in pits. This year, the number of participating committees has gone up to 18. Two more are expected to sign up. The basic idea is to stop polluting the Yamuna and respect the NGT’s order of making our celebrations environment friendly. Earlier, we used to go to the Yamuna ghats, but the river is in such a bad shape,” Atin Chatterjee, one of the leading members of JPC and a core member of Bangiya Parishad, Gurgaon, said.

The committee members said they plan to build three eco-pits, of 30X30X8 feet, which will be filled with water up to 6 feet. An additional smaller pit will also be dug for disposing compostable items, such as garlands, flowers and earthen pots. After an idol is immersed and its clay washes off after a few days, its hay and wood skeleton will also be disposed off properly. “This skeleton will either be given to idol makers or the MCG,” Chatterjee said, adding that the eco-immersion is expected to be held again in Sector 56 this year.

“Last year, we made arrangements for immersions in Sector 56. This year also we are trying to organise the immersions at the same place. We have requested the MCG to grant permission,” Chatterjee said.

Ashish Chakroborty of Probashi Bangaliyana Club said that having a common ground for immersion is not only environmentally responsible, but also results increased participation and adds to the fanfare. “A lot of revelers, who were previously unable to join in for the immersion as the Yamuna is far from the city, can now join in,” he said.

But the Puja is more than over-the-top immersions on the last day. In the run up to it are celebrations that are never complete without pandal-hopping. To make pandal hopping easier for residents, the committee also plans to release a map of all the 18 pujas under its wing.

“Work on the map is underway. It will show the route from one pandal to another so that revelers can easily cover them all,” said Soubhik Sen of Purbapalli Durgabari Samiti.

Plans are also underway for adding more awards for creative excellence of pandals, which will be judged by a Kolkata-based group. “This year we intend to adjudge pandals on eight criteria,” said Debashish Das of Valley View Shorbojonin Puja Samity.

While the JPC is working to eventually connect all the puja committees in the city with a common immersion plan, it hopes that a permanent space can be allotted to the community for this annual ritual. “Our request to the government is to provide us a common space to develop a permanent immersion space. We can maintain the space and the pond,” said Kaushik Banerjee of Maruti Vihar Sarbojanin Durgotsab Committee.

So far, this year, the MCG has received applications from 38 committees to erect pandals.

First Published: Sep 03, 2019 20:50 IST