The central pollution watchdog has decided to review the existing guidelines on idol immersion, the government told the Lok Sabha on Friday.
While responding to a question on immersion of Lord Ganesha idols during the Ganesha Chaturthi festival, Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar urged people to use traditional clay instead of the plaster of paris and baked clay for making idols.
Javadekar told the House that the Central Pollution Control Board has decided to further review its 2010 guidelines on making and immersing idols, prohibiting the use of toxic paints and non-biodegradable chemical dyes in building them.
"The CPCB has decided to review its existing guidelines to make them more effective to address the environmental issues associated with the idol immersion. The technical institutions like NEERI and Central Water Commission and other concerned departments have been consulted in this regard," Javadekar said.
His response came in reply to a question by YSR Congress' MP from Andhra Pradesh, Kotagiri Sridhar, who had asked if the government has approached technical institutions to come up with the solution to the problem.
Sridhar had asked if the institutions have suggested building idols with locally available, bio-degradable materials, sustainable for fifteen days and later serving as fish feed.
Apprising the House of the existing CPCB guildelines, the minister said they encourage the use of traditional clay for idol making and call for educating public on ill-effects of their immersion in water bodies.
Some of the CPCB guidelines discourage painting of idols and prohibit toxic and non-biodegradable chemical dyes for the purpose.
"Worship material like flowers, vastras (clothes), decorating material (made of paper and plastic) etc. should be removed before immersion of the idols. Bio-degradable materials should be collected separately for recycling or composting. Non-biodegradable materials should be collected separately for disposal in sanitary landfills. Clothes may be sent to local orphan houses," the minister said quoting from the guidelines.
"The public should be educated on ill-effects of the immersion in the holy water bodies through mass awareness programme. The state pollution control boards concerned should conduct water quality assessment of the water body, preferably in Class-I cities (having population more than one lakh), at three stages i.e. pre-immersion, during immersion and post immersion," the guidelines said.
Some of the states like Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Kerala have issued directions in accordance with the CPCB guidelines banning non-eco friendly material in making idols.
The Delhi government had in 2018 directed all the concerned agencies in the city to create artificial ponds for green immersion of idols and prohibited immersion activity on the occasion of Ganesh Puja and Durga Puja both, the minister informed.