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Issue 27
, 2010
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Idol immersion goes green

Source: Hindustan Times, New Delhi, Date: , 2010

Police and local bodies will now have to ask devotees to remove clothes and ornaments from idols before immersing them into  water bodies. The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) on Wednesday issued guidelines based on directions of Mumbai High Court on idol immersion in an environment-friendly manner. The guidelines prohibit painting of ls with toxic and non-bio-degradable dyes. “Materials such as flowers, vastras (clothes), decorating materials (made of paper and plastic) should be removed before immersion of idols,” the CPCB said.

Approximately, close to 10 lakh idols are immersed each year in India’s water bodies. “Every year, after Durga puja the biological oxygen demand (BOD) levels in rivers in West Bengal fall dramatically...” said a CPCB official. Very low BOD levels can lead to death of marine life.

The guidelines direct local bodies to have dedicated immersion points with synthetic liners at the bottom of the water body. Idols can be immersed under supervision of the state pollution control board. “All idols have to be removed from water bodies within 48 hours under supervision of state pollution control board officials,” a CPCB official said.

Idol immersion being a big religious ritual for Hindus, the CPCB admits implementation of guidelines could be tough. So, it has recalled a message in Sanskrit from the Bhagavad Gita to convince people.

“Traditionally, we have been using environment-friendly products to make idols. We can do it now too as they are easily available in the market,” said CPCB chairman S.P. Gautam.

“West Bengal is already popularising environment friendly idols made of clay and having non-toxic natural colours.”

The state governments have been asked to set up coordination committees comprising representatives of pooja committees, police, local NGOs and  leaders to guide the public.

They have also been asked to carry out awareness campaign on ill effect of toxic products.