NGOs introduce many environment friendly initiatives

Ecoexist, a social enterprise, has introduced idols made out of cow dung, called Gomaya. Made by a group of farmers from a village near Kolhapur, the eco-friendly idols are devoid of chemicals
NGO Green Thumb will plant saplings to celebrate Ganesh festival. Here, the soil is being prepared for the same.(HT PHOTO)
NGO Green Thumb will plant saplings to celebrate Ganesh festival. Here, the soil is being prepared for the same.(HT PHOTO)
Updated on Sep 13, 2018 04:45 PM IST
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Hindustan Times, Pune | ByAnanya Barua

Harboring the mission to spread the message of eco-friendly festivities this Ganesh Chaturthi, several city-based organisations have decided to introduce several green initiatives.

Ecoexist, a social enterprise, has introduced idols made out of cow dung, called Gomaya. Made by a group of farmers from a village near Kolhapur, the eco-friendly idols are devoid of chemicals. The best part if that these idols become a manure for the plants after immersion. Ecoexist has been working on several green initiatives.

“ With this initiative, we not only plan to spread awareness about the harmful chemicals that go onto making the plaster of paris (POP) idols, but also give people an alternative and opportunity to do substantial good for the environment during the festivities. The idols designed by us leave behind valuable minerals for the plants, and in turn has a larger and sustainable impact. The idols are available in two sizes. An idol of 4 inches costs Rs 150 and 8 inches costs Rs 400. We have created 32 designs for the idols, so far,” said Manisha Gutman, co-founder of Ecoexist.

Speaking about Ecoexist’s 11th year of operation, Gutman added, “Thanks to rigorous efforts of several city organisations, people are increasingly becoming aware and the response to the idols has been positive.Also, considering the plastic ban in place, we thought of introducing all eco-friendly decorations this time, and have been promoting the same.”

To make the decorations eco-friendly, Ecoexist has found an alternative for Thermocol in Shola, a natural material, used majorly in West Bengal. “ We have organised various workshops on how to work with Shola, by bringing in special artisans from Kolkata,” said Gutman.

The NGO has also created special temples out of corrugated paper, for the Ganesh Idols. Inspired by the pre-dominent architechture of Ganesh temples in the state, Pune based architect Divya Jyoti designed it and it was produced by a group called Corugami. Easily detachable, it is fully eco-friendly and can be reused.

Green Thumb

Green Thumb, a non-profit organisation of ex-servicemen, has opted to do away with idol worship and instead worship trees which is considered by many as the basic form of divinity.

“Every year, we have various eco-friendly ways to celebrate Ganesh Chaturthi, but this year we thought, why not pray to Mother nature directly. So, instead of worshiping idols, we will worship the trees that we plant during these 10 days of festivities,” said founder, (retd) Col Suresh Patil.

Green Thumb plans to plant atleast 2,500 trees along the banks of Khadakwasla dam, to enrich the catchment area of the dam. Starting Thursday, the plantation drive would see 250 to 500 saplings being planted every day. The worshipping of the plants will happen, thereafter.

“Owing to the increasing population in and around the city and the mounting pressure on the dam, we thought the best way to celebrate the auspicious days is by embracing nature. Over the years, huge silt deposits have reduced the water holding capacity of the Khadakwasla dam. The major reason is deforestation. So, the initiative,” said Col Patil.

Bal Kanyan Sanstha

Bal Kalyan Sanstha, a social organisation, wanted to make young minds realise the importance of eco-friendly alternatives in Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations. So, they involved children in making the Ganesh idols and creating bio-degrable decoration materials.

“They are the future and it is important for them to understand how their actions can have a larger impact, both positive and negative. We try to steer them towards the positive side through these activities,” said Aparna Mahesh Panse,manager of the organisation.

Many, starting from 6-year-olds to 18-year-olds, have used the paper mache technique to make a foot long Ganesh idol. Most of the decorative items have been made using paper and fabric.  “We started the preparations last month, with 100 students coming in everyday to create the set, the idol and decorations. Not only is it helping them understand what such alternatives can do for the environment as opposed to the PoP idols, but also how they can come together to bring about a positive change. Similarly, for the immersion process, we will carry out the ceremony here at Bal Kalyan. And the residual water with paper particles will be then poured into the garden to serve as biodegradable fertilizer for the plants,” he said.


Two non-governmental organisations, the Nirmalya group of Swach and Jeevit Nadi have appealed to the residents to volunteer at various ghats at Pimpri Chinchwad and Pune, the orientation session for which will be held on September 15 at Vruddheshwar Ghat.

Last year, Swach Nirmlaya Group had 200 volunteers working across the various ghats of the city during immersion of ganesh idols. “This year too, we are expecting a large number of people to sign up for the major immersion dates - September 17 and 23 - to help maintain the ghats. We request the people not to deposit nirmalya( dried flowers) in the rivers,” said Suchsmita Pai, from Swach outreach.

“Last year Swach diverted 138 tonnes of Nirmalya and this year with the help of volunteers we plan to be at 18 ghats on two major immersion days. In addition to volunteers, we will have 140 waste pickers and 60 coordinators stationed at the ghats,” said Pai.

Shaileja Deshpande, from Jeevit Nadi said, “Our motto is to create awareness about saving the river and making it pollution-free. hence we want volunteers who will join for they feel that it is my river , my responsibility, and every volunteer should feel for the river, then it will be a step in the right direction during Ganapati festival”

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