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Ganesh idols from Mumbai’s artificial ponds eventually end up in the sea as BMC can’t recycle them

The BMC that set up 32 artificial ponds for immersions in 2017 will end up dumping these idols back into the deep sea

mumbai Updated: Sep 07, 2017 10:06 IST
Eeshanpriya MS and Yesha Kotak
Eeshanpriya MS and Yesha Kotak
Hindustan Times
Devotees use a raft for immersion in Mumbai on Tuesday. (Shashi S Kashyap/HT)

The Brihamumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) that set up 32 artificial ponds for immersions in 2017 will end up dumping these idols back into the deep sea, a civic official said.

The practice has irked environmentalists who believe it defeats the purpose of the artificial ponds, which is to minimise pollution in the sea. About 30,000 idols were immersed in artificial ponds this year as against about 25,000 two years ago.

The BMC has been dumping idol residue in the sea for the past three-four years. It is yet to find a solution.

Anand Wagralkar, deputy municipal commissioner in charge of preparations for the Ganesh festival, said, “We immerse the Ganesh idols from artificial ponds into the deep sea, as we do not have a mechanism in place right now to recycle them. The water from these artificial ponds is flushed down storm water drains. If there is a garden nearby, we use it to water plants there.”

Environmentalists believe dumping this residue into the deep sea may cause more damage than the traditional immersion closer to the shore, as marine biodiversity is greater in deep sea.

City-based environmentalist Stalin D, who works with non-government organisation Vanashakti, said, “It is pointless to have artificial ponds, when the residue and idols from them is going back into the sea anyway.”

Pradeep Patade, an activist who has been documenting marine biodiversity for the past six years, said, “This is harmful for marine life. The BMC must come up with another way to deal with artificial ponds.”

Wagralkar said the BMC is in the process of designing a recycling setup for the idols that are immersed in artificial ponds, which will be ready in the next few months and can be used during next year’s Ganesh festival. However, the BMC has been designing a recycling unit for these idols since 2015.

Significantly, the civic officials had given a similar answer to former corporator Santosh Dhuri who had raised the issue of sea water pollution from contents of artificial ponds in a standing committee meeting in 2015.

Mumbaiites laud the BMC, police’s efforts for safe immersions

Komal Karanjavkar, a former student member of the Children’s Movement for Civic Awareness (CMCA), was present on Wednesday morning at Juhu Chowpatty for the Chakachak Mumbai initiative, in which several people cleaned various spots of the beach, a day after visarjan.

Twenty-one-year old Karanjavkar, a student of Raheja College, Juhu, who first participated in a beach clean-up eight years back, said, “There has been an increase in the number of idols being immersed in the sea every year. However, the civic body’s role in clearing these water bodies has become better over a period of time. “

Most of the people, including 100 students of Lady Ratanbai and Sir Mathuradas Vissanji Academy, Andheri and 15 hearing impaired students from Rotary Sanskardham Academy, Goregaon who participated in the process, were of the opinion that they noticed a lot of plastic waste on the beach.

“When we reached here around 9am, there was a lot of plastic waste, Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) had already cleared out the idols,” said Priti Mandavkar, teacher, Rotary Sanskardham Academy.

In week 99 of the Versova beach cleanup, the residents along with various other organisations, recovered around 80 tonnes of plastic and filth.

An official from Solid waste management (SWM) department of K/East ward (Andheri and Vile Parle East), said they started working at 4am on Wednesday morning to ensure that the beach is clean for visitors. “Since we are aware of tide timings, we started working earlier so that the dumpers do not face a problem in removing the waste later, once the high tide begins,” said the official.

On the other hand, a lot of devotees who visited Girgaum Chowpatty on Tuesday for immersion seemed pretty happy with the efforts put in by police personnel and BMC. Dhaval Fataniya, a resident of Kumbharwada, Nagpada, has been getting their family Ganpati to Girgaum since the last 90 years. “I didn’t have my mobile phone, and I got down earlier, but I could easily find my family around, since the arrangements are well managed this year,” said Fataniya.

First Published: Sep 07, 2017 10:06 IST