NGT Issues Strict Orders on PoP Ganesha Idol Immersion in Thane Bay Amid Allegations of Ban Evasion

NGT Issues Strict Orders on PoP Ganesha Idol Immersion in Thane Bay Amid Allegations of Ban Evasion

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has now issued strict orders to the municipal administration regarding the direct immersion of PoP idols in Thane Bay.

Prem MoreUpdated: Thursday, September 28, 2023, 11:40 AM IST
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NGT Issues Strict Orders on PoP Ganesha Idol Immersion in Thane Bay Amid Allegations of Ban Evasion | representative pic

Thane: Ahead of the immersion of Lord Ganesha on Anant Chaturdashi today, environmental activist and member of the Wetland Committee from Thane, Rohit Joshi, has alleged that the new government has lifted the ban on Plaster of Paris (PoP) Ganesha idols by playing politics and disregarding all regulations on the ground.

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has now issued strict orders to the municipal administration regarding the direct immersion of PoP idols in Thane Bay.

In 2020, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) banned the use of Plaster of Paris in making idols with the intention of preventing water sources from being polluted due to their discharge.

Compliance report to be submitted by the administration:

The arbitrator has ordered strict compliance with the instructions in the Central Pollution Board's Idol Immersion Rules of 2020. The Maharashtra Pollution Control Corporation has also directed the corporation to submit a compliance report within the next two weeks, monitoring the actions taken by the Thane Municipal Administration. In a matter of a few hours, it will be clear whether the municipal administration takes measures to comply with these orders

Dangers to the Thane Bay (flamingo sanctuary)

Thane Bay has been declared as a protected flamingo sanctuary. In the Thane Bay Flamingo Sanctuary Management Plan for 2020-2030 prepared by the Forest Department, the pollution in the Thane Bay area has been attributed to the immersion of PoP idols during Ganeshotsava. Rohit Joshi said that according to the rules published by the Central Pollution Control Board for the disposal of idols in 2020, it has been clearly mentioned that the responsibility of the local bodies will be that the debris of the idols do not go into the water body during any festival.

Rules around idol-making

"The sculptors were instructed to make environment friendly idols using only natural, bio-degradable, eco-friendly raw materials instead of using plastic and thermocol (polystyrene). Besides, only dried flower components were permitted to be used to make idol ornaments and natural resins of trees as glittering material to make idols attractive," said the top pollution control body.

After these instructions, many states took the initiative and imposed strict restrictions regarding PoP idols. Production, transportation and sale of these idols was banned. However, petitioner Rohit Joshi, an environmental activist from Thane and a member of the Wetland Committee, has alleged that the new government has lifted the ban on PoP idols by playing ballot box politics and putting all the regulations on the ground. Joshi said that since 2019, there is no expected change in this process despite continuous follow-up. He has appealed to the NGT for the protection of the environment in Thane.

The National Green Arbitrator took note of the matter and expressed strong displeasure over it. The NGT has ordered the municipality to strictly follow the Environment Protection Act as well as the Central Pollution Board's 2020 guidelines on idol immersion.

According to this year's Police Commissionerate report, about 41,000 domestic and 350 public Ganesha idols have been installed in Thane city. More than 1.5 lakh Ganesha idols have been installed in the entire Thane district. RTI has revealed that the Thane municipality spends crores of rupees every year on building artificial lakes for immersion of the idols. Every year, Thane Municipality appeals to Thanekars to celebrate the eco-friendly Ganeshotsav. Lakhs of rupees are spent by the municipality for public awareness through advertisements and artists. It shows that citizens spontaneously prefer Ganesha idols made of shadu or paper pulp. However, Joshi has alleged that idols of Shadu and PoP are being immersed together in an artificial lake and then all these idols are being immersed in the creek.

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