BHOPAL: The Upper Lake and different water bodies of the city face a threat of getting polluted after this year’s Ganesh festival, as the civic body has failed to ban use of plaster of Paris for making Ganesh idols.
Notwithstanding raids and seizures, PoP idols are still being used by the idol-makers. They say that they completely agree with the government’s decision of banning PoP idols but are helpless.
Bringing to fore their reasons, they told Free Press that clay of requisite quality is not available in and around Bhopal and moreover, they lack space to store clay idols, which, unlike PoP ones, cannot be stacked one upon another.
The authorities had raided a locality near MANIT in the city recently and seized a large number of PoP idols. “We suffered losses of lakhs of rupees,” laments one of them.
In a congested slum cluster in New Bhopal, colourful PoP idols of Ganeshaa in various postures are being openly produced and are available for sale. They cost between Rs 20 and Rs 5,000 a piece, depending on the size and the quality. Most of the buyers are traders.
“We take loans on high rates of interest for buying raw material. We start working at least four months before the advent of the festive season,” says an elderly woman Manu Bai.
“They are not wrong. It is true that PoP idols do not dissolve in water,” she says, when asked about logic of the government ban. But she and other idol-makers of the area listed a host of reasons like clay idols are heavier than the PoP ones and take much longer to produce. “Understand it like this.
If we can produce 500 small PoP idols in a day but it would take at least five days to produce as many clay ones,” says Laxminarayan Prajapati.
They also say that clay idols are not as attractive as the PoP ones. “Khud hi milakar dekh lo (You can yourself compare the two),” says one of them, pointing towards clay and PoP idols kept separately in the small space outside his shanty.
Moreover, they say, PoP idols are much less prone to damage by rains than the clay ones. “It is rainy season and we don’t have space to keep them inside our homes.
If it rains, the clay idols would be reduced to nothing in no time,” points out JK Prajapati. The PoP idols need less storage space as they can be stacked one atop another.
They admit that the clay idols cost less to produce but the advantage is more than offset by the other factors. “A 20-kg bag of PoP costs Rs 110 while we can get a tractor-trolley load of clay for Rs 2000-4000,” says an idol-maker, giving finishing touch to a five-foot idol of the Lord which is priced at Rs 5,500.
Only one idol maker claimed that he was producing only clay idols only to reveal in the same breath that he has sold off all his PoP stocks to a trader from Indore!
The idol-makers said in unison that if the government provides them clay of the requisite quality and covered space to keep their stocks, they would be more than willing to abandon PoP. ‘
Warna hum kuch nahin kar sakte, Aaakhir hamein bhi to apne bal-bachhon ka pet bharna hai (We are helpless. After all we have kids to feed)”, remarks Mannu Bai, summing up their dilemma.