Ganesh idol sculptors overlook MPCB directives

Aug 29, 2012, 08:26 IST | Vivek Sabnis

Regardless of the fact that the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB), the state government and the Ministry of Environment had issued directives prohibiting use of inorganic colours to decorate Ganesh idols, it has been observed that very few sculptors in the city were following it.

There are over 300 sculptors scattered across the city and most of them are still using inorganic colours and plaster of Paris (POP) to sculpt Ganesh idols.  Based on the Supreme Court’s directives in 2007, the MPCB immediately issued directives for eco-friendly visarjan. A Government Resolution (GR) was passed by the state on May 3, 2011, making it mandatory for all the civic bodies to adhere to the directives issued by the pollution control board. 

Where’s the order?
“We did not receive any order from the government or from the pollution control board. I use water colours for clothes and oil colours for the body,” idol maker Ganesh Khedkar said and has been making idols for the past 30 years.

He also uses fluorescent colours and thermal thinner spray for shading effect. “I don’t know what these colours are made of, but they give a unique shine to the idols,” Khedkar said.

Ajay Shinde, who uses plastic paint for large idols and fluorescent colours for smaller ones, said it was impossible to produce colours without using chemicals. Shinde too said that he had not received any directives from the government.

Money matters
“We have to use POP instead of shadu as it has become expensive. Last year, the government had issued directives prohibiting the use of POP as it takes time to dissolve in the water. People might not be able to afford idols made from shadu, as they cost four times the ones made from POP,” Shinde said.

It’s all toxic
The founder-president of Andhashraddha Nirmulan Samitee (ANS), Dr Narendra Dabholkar, said that 95 per cent of the idols were decorated using toxic colours. He said these colours had mercury and lead, and were neurotoxic and carcinogenic in nature.

“In Pune, only 60,000 idols are immersed in PMC-constructed tanks. The remaining 30 lakh idols are immersed in Mula and Mutha. I am going to raise this issue with Mayor Vaishali Bankar and Divisional Commissioner Prabhakar Deshmukh,” Dabholkar said.  Ramesh Khar, an engineer who made Ganesh idols using alum as an eco-friendly solution for immersion, said alum purifies. 

Eco-friendly solution
“Ganesh idols made of POP and decorated using toxic colours pollute water. My idea was highly appreciated by the people from all walks of life and the media. It still remains a difficult task to produce ample idols, as nobody is willing to fund the project. And though my work was also appreciated by IIT Powai (Mumbai) students and professors, it is yet to be implemented practically,” Khar said.

Mangesh Dighe from the PMC’s environment office said they would be implementing MPCB and court’s directives stringently.

“We have 97 water tanks installed at immersion points where immersion of idols is done properly,” Dighe said. “Interestingly, the trend of donating Ganesh idol instead of immersing is gaining momentum,” Dighe said.

He also said the PMC’s environmental cell had made training programmes for school children, training them to sculpt eco-friendly idols at home itself.  

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