An RTI report has revealed that Ganesh idols immersed in artificial lakes and Ganesh ghats in Thane were finally released into the Thane creek, risking the natural habitats, aquatic creatures, mangroves and flamingo sanctuary around the creek. The issue was raised by citizen activists and youth organization from Thane, who wrote a letter to Thane Municipal Corporation (TMC).
In an RTI filed by a youth organization-Muse Foundation, it was revealed that in 2019, the TMC had been collecting Ganesh idols from the citizens through its 19 artificial ponds which are then finally being disposed of in the running water of Thane Creek. The issue has been highlighted by approaching mangroves conservation unit, Thane creek Flamingo sanctuary and other concerned agencies responsible for environment conservation.
"The information provided by the pollution control department of TMC has disclosed the high level of pollution in Thane creek caused by the disposal of Plaster-of-Paris (POP) idols during Ganesh Utsav in Thane which is posing a great threat to the Thane Creek Flamingo Sanctuary. However, after recent follow up on the same, the TMC official from pollution control department has said the similar immersion process is being followed so far," said Nishant Bangers, 29, founder of Muse foundation, Thane.
"However, the pollution control board of TMC is in acceptance of this gross violation of basic preventive control measures through the RTI. The situation remains unchanged in 2020. As the POP idols and its paint are toxic for marine life and the water quality, this can be detrimental to the health and thus the migration of flamingos," said Sushank Tomar, 25 citizen activist and member of foundation.
According to the RTI reply by TMC, in the year 2016, as per records over 45,000 idols were received in the ponds and as per the current process released in the creek water.
"This is a huge number that has been ever increasing. Therefore, a complaint letter highlighting the above issue has been highlighted by writing to TMC, state environment department, Maharashtra coastal zone management authority, Maharashtra pollution control board and Mumbai Mangroves conservation unit," added Tomar.
An official from Flamingo sanctuary of Thane creek has claimed that the creek area which comes under the sanctuary has not yet observed any effect.
"So far no signs of immersed idols has been spotted near the Flamingo sanctuary area of Thane creek. However, taking the note of the complaint the inspection will be carried and accordingly the action will be taken," said N G Kokare, range forest officer, Thane creek Flamingo Sanctuary.