Dip and save: Students build pond to keep Ganesha idols out of lake in Mumbai
They ask devotees to dip idols thrice and keep them for reuse next yearmumbai Updated: Sep 04, 2017 00:20 IST
A group of college students made an artificial pond in Goregaon’s Aarey Milk Colony near the main gate of Chota Kashmir Lake to save the natural water body from getting polluted after idol immersions during Ganeshotsav. They also asked devotees to dip idols thrice as a symbolic immersion and sent these idols to sculptors for resale.
With support from Goregaon residents, officials from Aarey and a local voluntary group, the students constructed a two-feet deep pond with a diameter of nine feet. On Ganeshotsav’s second day, 30 idols were immersed and 72 on the seventh day. The students, aged between 17 years and 22 years, call themselves ‘Helping Hands’.
The idols collected have been sent to a sculptor in Navi Mumbai who will repaint them and sell them next year. The name of the idol maker has not been revealed as devotees traditionally do not like to reuse immersed idols. “The idea was to safeguard our rivers, beaches and the ocean from pollution and spread awareness among citizens to use eco-friendly idols rather than Plaster-of-Paris (PoP) as it takes a long time to dissolve,” said Rupal Dey, 19, who led the student group.
The students said they were inspired by citizens of Nashik, who immersed 2.7 lakh idols at artificial immersion spots last year. “We began our endeavour a month before the festival by conducting door-to-door awareness drives across various societies in Goregoan,” said Archit Pulekar, another volunteer.
Till the eight day of the festival, the city immersed a total of 1.45 lakh idols at various beaches and water bodies. However, only 5% of the idols (8,243) were immersed at 31 artificial ponds created in 24 municipal wards so far. According to the solid waste management (SWM) department of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), 800 metric tonnes of waste has been collected and sent to dumping grounds in the city so far and the major load is expected on the last day of immersions.
Volunteers from Helping Hands also collected 100kg of nirmalaya (flower waste) during the immersions and handed it over for composting to Aarey authorities. “We did not have enough funds or else the pond would have been much bigger. The BMC did not support us at all,” said Dey while adding that next year they will set up artificial ponds at various locations in the city.
Aarey officials said thanks to the students’ efforts, there were hardly any immersions at the Chota Kashmir Lake. “The students came to us with a solid plan and we were convinced that it would reduce the pollution at the lake. We issued all permissions to them and their efforts are commendable as the lake is pollution free so far,” said Nathu Rathod, chief executive officer, Aarey Milk Colony
“We laud the initiative taken by these students that has helped reduce the burden from city dumping grounds. We urge citizens to use these sites on the last day of immersion,” said Vijay Balamvar, deputy municipal commissioner, SWM, BMC.