The BMC is all set to enforce the ban on Plaster of Paris (POP) idols this year. The decision has upset idol makers who urged civic officials to suggest eco-friendly alternatives to replace the harmful chemicals at the meeting held at the F-South Ward office in Parel on Wednesday evening. The officials said they are awaiting a report by the expert committee appointed by the state government to suggest an alternative to POP, along with mitigation measures to check water pollution due to idols immersion.
The ban on POP will be implemented as per guidelines of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB). Accordingly, a special coordination meeting was held by the BMC to create awareness among the idol makers on Wednesday. “This was the third meeting in the last few months but no solution has come out of it. The ban cannot be implemented without giving an alternative. A committee was formed to find ways to replace toxic chemicals but we have not yet been informed about the developments,” said Naresh Dahibavkar, president of Brihanmumbai Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Samanvay Samiti (BSGSS).
“There are more than 12,000 sarvajanik (public) Ganeshotsav mandals and 2.5 lakh household Ganesha idols. Of these, 80% are made using POP. Will the BMC make such a large quantity of shadu clay available at affordable rates? Do they want to destroy the livelihood of idol makers?” questioned Dahibavkar.
Meanwhile, Deputy Municipal Commissioner Ramakant Biradar said, “The expert committee has been formed by the state's Urban Development Department. They will study all the aspects and suggest an alternative material to POP. We are following up with the committee. The coordination meeting was held to sensitise the Ganeshotsav mandals and idol makers to the POP ban.”
The guidelines were issued by the CPCB in May 2020, banning POP as they cause of pollution in water bodies. However, a sudden ban would affect the livelihood of idol makers, so on their request, it was postponed by one year. Last year, since Ganeshotsav was celebrated after two years of Covid restrictions, the civic authority allowed POP idols as a special case. The 11 days of Ganeshotsav will be celebrated from September 19 to 28 this year.
(To receive our E-paper on WhatsApp daily, please click here. To receive it on Telegram, please click here. We permit sharing of the paper's PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)