Ganesh Visarjan is around the corner, soon the lord will be sent off in a gallant way like every year. But the scintillating decorations and celebrations will also leave a large amount of waste materials on the sites of immersion. Every year, during Ganesh Visarjan, tonnes of paper, plastic materials, thermocol and flowers, also called nirmalaya, are immersed into the city’s rivers. This not only leads to the destruction of the river’s water but also affects the ecological balance of the city.
How big is the problem?
Manisha Desai, of SWaCH, a collective of self-employed waste-pickers who have been helping in the collection and recycling of nirmalaya after Ganesh visarjan for the last six years, says, that the waste left after immersion is a huge problem. “In fact, on the fifth day of Ganesh Utsav alone, our 90 waste-pickers along with 400 volunteers collected more than 41 tonnes of nirmalaya from 13 visarjan ghats in Pune and two visarjan ghats in PCMC (Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation) area,” she adds.
What is waste?
SWaCH recovers dry waste such as paper, plastic and thermocol, and sends it for recycling. Food waste including coconuts and fruits are either recycled for sale or distribution. The non-recyclable materials are sent to the PMC containers. Deepak Girme of Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Samiti, says that most of the idols are made of plaster of Paris (POP) and coloured using harmful chemicals, which pollute the water bodies. “It’s time that the society understands on its own and contributes towards saving the environment,” he adds.
Housing societies can help too
Girme says that little efforts from housing societies could go a long way in saving the water bodies in Pune. “Housing societies can make a tank in their premises to immerse their home-made Ganesh idols and later on can use this excreta in the colony garden. These are the simplest ways to save our environment and I hope people would incorporate them now!” For the last day of the immersion around 130 waste-pickers from SWaCH along with 450-500 volunteers from different NGOs and clubs will be present on the ghats of the city. “We appeal to our citizens to look out for the volunteers wearing ‘green armbands’ present on the river ghats and hand over the nirmalaya to them, and help keep our city pollution-free,” adds Desai.
Want to help?
Citizens can join SWaCH volunteers at the following immersion sites on September 18: Yerawada/Chima, Sangam, Bund Garden, SM Joshi Pul, Vitthal Mandir, Aundh Gaon, Vriddeshwar, Garware, Katraj Ramp, Dattawadi, Cummins College, Sanghavi, Pimpri, Shahu Udyan, Aundh and Bopodi.