In an effort to curb pollution during the annual Ganeshotsav celebration, the "Punaravartan" campaign, initiated by the e Coexist Foundation in collaboration with the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC), has set its sights on achieving a zero-waste festival.
Launched in 2020, Punaravartan seeks to collect and recycle natural clay, known as shaadu mitti, a traditional material used for making Ganesh idols, thus reducing the environmental impact of the festival. Last year, the campaign collected 23,000 kilograms of clay, but this year, it aims even higher, targeting the collection of 50,000-10,00,000 kilograms of soil.
Manisha Sheth, Director of e Coexist Foundation, explained, "We have started this campaign to collect the material used and disposed of or recycled. We also collect the clay and then give it to Murtikars (idol makers). The soil is collected in two ways: from those who immerse Ganesh idols at home, our volunteers from 50 locations will collect the soil, and on the day of immersion at 40 places where volunteers will wait at Ghats and tanks with Swach employees to collect the soil."
Campaign Receives Strong Support
The campaign has garnered support from 25 partners, including Poornam ecovision and Swachh Corporation. The initiative has been put forth to the Chief Minister of the State and the National Environment department.
Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) has played a pivotal role in supporting this green initiative. This year, they are setting up 619 tanks for the immersion of Ganesh idols, a significant increase from the 359 steel tanks used last year.
Dr. Ketaki Ghatge, Assistant Medical Officer from the Department of Solid Waste Management at Pune Municipal Corporation, affirmed their support, stating, "We will be supporting the initiative of Punaravartan for the zero waste system."
The collected clay sludge is not going to waste either. It has been returned to several Ganesh sculptors in Pune and Pen, as well as some educational institutions for experimentation. This eco-friendly clay is offered to artisans free of charge as an incentive for them to abandon the use of Plaster of Paris (POP) and adhere to the ban on POP idols. Idols crafted from this renewed clay will be reintroduced into the market this year.