Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Tuesday directed the BMC and local bodies to make “adequate arrangements” for “safer immersion of idols” throughout the city and in the suburbs as per the guidelines issued by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and 2018 HC order.
A division bench of Chief Justice DK Upadhayaya and Justice Arif Doctor also directed the civic body and the authorities to file affidavits detailing the steps taken by them to ensure compliance with CPCB guidelines.
The court was hearing a petition filed by a non-governmental organisation Vanashakti through advocate Tushad Kakalia seeking restrain on the BMC from permitting immersion in the three lakes – Chhota Kashmir Lake, Ganesh Mandir Lake and Kamal Lake – inside the Aarey Milk Colony, which is notified as Eco Sensitive Zone (ESZ).
Aarey Colony refuses to grant permission to the BMC to allow immersion
State advocate Poornima Kantharia informed the HC that the CEO of Aarey Colony has refused to grant permission to the BMC to allow immersion in the three lakes. It said that no permission will be granted as per the provisions contained in Government of India’s notification dated December 15, 2016, which declared Aarey ESZ and the CPCB guidelines issued on May 12, 2020.
Senior advocate Milind Sathe, appearing for the BMC, said that in view of the refusal by the CEO, it will make alternate arrangements.
The PIL has also raised the issue relating to pollution being caused on account of immersion of idols made of Plaster of Paris (PoP). The BMC had claimed that various circulars and brochures have been issued for disseminating the information for compliance with the guidelines.
However, the bench noted: “Neither statutory provisions are being followed nor the CPCB guidelines”.
The court noted that the CPCB guidelines have listed 25 steps be taken by the respective authorities including the authorities of the urban local bodies to make efforts not only to identify and arrange an adequate number of designated temporary or artificial ponds or tanks but also to ensure that such artificial ponds or tanks are arranged at suitable places.
“For safer immersion of the idols adequate arrangements shall be made by the different urban local bodies throughout the city and in the suburbs lying in its vicinity in terms of the guidelines issued by the CPCB,” said the bench.
While asking the authorities to file a reply in four weeks, the HC kept the PIL for hearing on November 1.