Ganapati refused 'green' card by US

Sep 03, 2012, 06:34 IST | Vivek Sabnis

Man brings back idol installed last year at daughter's home in California as strict environmental laws abroad prohibit immersion in water bodies; visarjan to now be performed in Pune on Sep 20

Suresh Ghorpade, a retired officer from the Ministry of Defence who is an ardent Ganapati worshipper, will be immersing last year’s Ganesh idol during this year’s visarjan.

The reason is that he had installed the idol at his daughter’s residence in San Diego, California, where stringent environmental laws do not permit immersion of idols in water bodies.

A long wait: Suresh Ghorpade with the undissolved idol which he brought from California. Ghorpade will be immersing it at an artificial tank constructed by the PMC near Balgandharva Rangmandir. Pic/Krunal Gosavi

Now he is back in the city with the idol. “Stringent laws in the US and several European countries have made it impossible to immerse idols in rivers or any water bodies,” Ghorpade said.

He had purchased the idol in San Diego that was exported from Maharashtra.  “I Installed and worshiped the idol at my daughter’s residence in California for a day-and-a-half. It was impossible for me to look for a pond or river, as environmental laws in California are stringent. I, therefore, immersed the idol in a bucket of water. 

Despite keeping the idol in the bucket for three days it failed to dissolve,” Ghorpade said. “I contacted our priest, Sathye Guruji, asking him what to do with the idol. Acting on his suggestion, I brought it back to Pune, for which and travelled over 5,000 km. The idol will be immersed on September 20 now, along with the one that will be installed this Ganeshotsav.”

After his experience, Ghorpade dropped the idea of installing a Ganapati idol at his younger daughter’s residence in Munich in Germany for the upcoming Ganeshotsav. “Laws against immersion of idols in Munich are even stricter,” Ghorpade said. Ghorpade has decided to immerse the idol he brought along wit him from the US in an immersion tank constructed by the PMC near Balgandharv Rangmandir. 

“I can immerse the idol without harming the environment in Pune,” Ghorpade said. Shrirang Nene, who visits California regularly, has stopped taking Ganesh idols along with him to the US to celebrate Ganeshotsav at his daughter’s residence in New Jersey.

“Who wants to pay the penalty for immersing idols in flowing water there?” Nene said. “I have taken a safer approach by installing Ganapati at my residence in the city.”  Ramesh Kher, who had sculpted and eco-friendly Ganesh idol of alum, said those celebrating Ganeshotsav in foreign countries faced the problem of immersion. 

“Idol immersion is not easy, as every country has its own environmental laws. But there are a few exceptions. NRIs in New Jersey took special permission from the government and constructed a water body just for immersion. My alum-made Ganesh idol has been appreciated by many of the NRIs, who prefer it over idols made from PoP,” Kher said.

Kher said the PMC should enforce directives issued by the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) that were passed based on the ruling of the Aurangabad bench of the Bombay High Court.  “A total ban should be imposed on the use of PoP and chemical colours for making idols so that they dissolve in the water easily,” Kher said.  

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