CM's town in list of places that flouted immersion norms

Environmentalists say rivers used for visarjan of thousands of Ganesh idols in Karad, Satara, Nashik and city despite court rulings prohibiting practice

Chif Minister Prithviraj Chavan's hometown Karad in Satara district saw the flouting of environmental norms this Ganeshotsav with the immersion of thousands of idols in the Krishna river. Immersing the idols in the river went against various rulings of the Bombay High Court, the Supreme Court and the Central Pollution Board. The relevant ruling of the Central Pollution Board and directives by the apex court and the high court in 2005 state that no water pollution is allowed in any river, which includes the immersion of idols.

In defiance: According to ruling by the Central Pollution Board and
directives of apex court and the high court in 2005, immersing idols in
rivers amounts to water pollution. File pic

The Aurangabad bench of the high court recently confirmed these rulings and directives were given to the state government to adhere to them. And yet, Chavan's hometown Karad was one of the places where Ganapati visarjan in the river caused pollution after thousands of idols were immersed.

Deities were also immersed in the Krishna in Satara city, said Dr Narendra Dabholkar, a noted social activist who initiated the eco-friendly Ganapati movement to prevent river pollution two decades ago. "This year the Ganapati deity immersion was not done according to norms, except in places like Nagpur and Kolhpar. I am submitting the report for Karad, Satara, Pune and Nashik, where over 90 per cent of immersions were done rivers, including the Mutha and the Godavari. We also have photographs as proof and we shall present our findings to the CM by next week," Dabholkar said.

He also emphasised that the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) should take action against the officials responsible for allowing the flouting of norms. Avinash Patil, executive president of anti-superstition body Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmulan Samiti (MANS), said he backed Dabholkar.

"Many local municipal bodies have not bothered to follow the basic environmental norms and immersed the deities in rivers," he said. "Since there was heavy rain this monsoon, in Karad and Satara the deities have floated over to the banks of the Krishna. In Satara over 7,000 deities were seen on the Krishna banks."
In the city, the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) did not make any alternative arrangements when the water tanks near the Mutha began overflowing with rainwater.

"The PMC should have appealed to the citizens and asked them to immerse the idols in the stone quarries near the city. This was done in Kolhapur," Patil said. NITIN Shinde, sub-regional officer, Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB), agreed that the board had given the court directives to all the municipal bodies in the state. "This time the monsoon was quite heavy all over the state causing the municipal official to have less time for alternative arrangements. The situation was the same in Pune, Karad and Satara," he said.

Approximate number of Ganapati idols immersed in Mutha

Demands to CM
>> Stern action should be taken against errant officials in Satara district
>> Sale of idols made of Plaster of Paris should be stopped in all cities in the state
>> Use of hazardous chemical colours to paint idols should be stopped as it causes river pollution
>> Use of natural colours and pure clay to make deities should be enforced in the state

Use alum idols
RAMESH Kher, an entrepreneur who has been making alum idols for some time now, said that alum not only does not pollute the river but also cleanses it. "I am planning to manufacture more alum Ganesh idols from next year. I had made five such deities and distributed these to family and friends. Alum is eco-friendly and can be recycled," Kher said.

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