Guidelines from Ministry for Ganapati Visarjan and Durga Puja

Central ministry and Central Pollution Control Board of India have formulated some guidelines prior to Ganapati Visarjan and Durga Puja. They requested all the pujan pandals to use eco friendly Ganapati and Durga idols for the sake of safer environment. They have also suggested to use environment-friendly materials for idols and decorations of pandals that can reduce the pollution in water bodies where the idols are immersed.

Economic Times published:

Religious rituals may have to make some compromises for the sake of environment. Ahead of Ganapati Visarjan and Durga Puja, the environment ministry has put in place guidelines for idol immersion. Concerned about the increase in pollution of water bodies at the end of the festival, the ministry has suggested use of environment-friendly materials for idols and laid out a system for immersions that would minimize pollution of water bodies.

Environment minister Jairam Ramesh has written to all chief ministers asking them to ensure strict implementation of the guidelines. “Faith must be respected but there is a growing need to regulate this practice since the number of idols being immersed is increasing every year. This has led to instances of severe pollution of these water bodies,” Mr Ramesh wrote.

The guidelines, formulated by the Central Pollution Control Board, have suggested preferred materials for idols, immersion process and segregation of materials ahead of immersion to prevent pollution.

“These guidelines lay down specific instructions for immersion in lakes, rivers and in the sea, which must be paid attention to. These guidelines further delineate and specify the role of the state pollution control boards in conducting water quality assessments of water bodies and classifying them on the basis of certain physio-chemical parameters,” the minister wrote.

It has been suggested that idols be made from natural materials “as described in the holy scripts”. The CPCB guidelines suggest discouraging the use of Plaster of Paris and baked clay. Painting of idols is also being discouraged.

In case idols have to be painted, the CPCB has suggested that water soluble and non-toxic natural dyes are used. The guidelines suggest segregating all worship materials into bio-degradable and non biodegradable materials. The former would be used for composting and recycling and the later to be disposed in sanitary landfills. It is suggested that clothes be sent to orphanages.

To ensure that immersions are conducted with minimal damage to water bodies, the local authorities have been asked to identify and notify immersion spots. These identifications will be done in consultation with the river authority, port authority, water supply board, irrigation department. The pooja organizers are to be roped in for spreading awareness about the need to use non-toxic materials for idols and decorations.

It has also been suggested that the immersion spots be cordoned off and barricaded, and a synthetic liner be placed at the bottom of the spot. This will help in collecting and removing materials that do not dissolve in water. The CPCB has set out specific instructions for all kinds of water bodies. The state pollution control boards and pollution control committees have been asked to make a water quality assessment before and after the immersions.

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