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Shocking Pollution During the Ganesh

Shocking Pollution During the Ganesh

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Published by: AMIN BUHARI ABDUL KHADER on Nov 27, 2008
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09/14/2012

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OMTEX CLASSES
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Shocking Pollution during the Ganesh Festival
 Yesterday was an important day. It was Anant Chaturthithe culmination of a ten-day longGanesh Festival,one of the most important festivals of western India. It was a day of great  joyousness and celebration…but it has an ugly side. The environmental damage it causes.Thousands of idols made from harmful materialslike plaster of paris and toxic metals, coated  with deadly paints containing mercury, cadmium, lead and carbon enter our water bodies. Theseidols, some of them gigantic in size, are immersed in lakes, rivers and the sea.
Just Mumbai’s seatakes inabout 1.5 lakh (1lakh = 100,000) idols every year! Is it anywonder then then oxygen levels in the water  bodiesfall by about 50 per cent immediatelyafter the 10-day Ganeshutsav festival?
Not many care
Although there are organisationsworking towards creating awareness aboutthe benefitsof usingeco-friendlyidols and state governments doissue‘guidelines’ about immersions, not much is happening on the ground. Although there are specially prepared tanks for immersions, people don’t prefer to use these, and few are interested in eco-friendly idols. Itwas heartening to seeHarshaactually try and find out the situation on the ground. He trudgedfour hours in the hot sun in Pune to find out if people were using eco-friendly idols. Hisfindings:
 
 As I continued my search in the streets of Pune, I came across many idols-made of materials as varied as PoP, Silver, Tin Foil and Thermocol, but not the green Ganesha. That’s what I waslooking for..an idol made of clay and a
 pandal 
that used eco-friendly materials…I must have walked for at least 20 km, clicking hundreds of pix on the way. I could not find a single idol madeof clay, nor a
 pandal 
which didn’t use the
 papi 
materials - PoP and Thermocol.
 
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Well, finally he did find a green
 pandal 
, but no idol. This then is the reality. No one cares.And we are not just talking of the masses here. I have tried to convince several people I knowand while they agreed with me in theory, none of them actually went and bought an eco-friendly idol. In fact one lady told me point blank:
When there is a law against it we’ll do it!
This even though they clearly see the water bodies around them getting polluted. I don’t believe this is due to religious reasons, but due to apathy and lack of civic sense.
What actually happens?
Here are theresultsof a scientific study done on a body of water in Andhra Pradesh, theHussainsagar Lake. After examining the water before and after immersion the scientistsfound that the concentration of substances like calcium, magnesium, molybdenum and siliconconcentrations increased significantly. Also, it wasfound that concentrations of heavy metals likearsenic, lead and mercury had increased. Metalslike lead and mercury are particularly worrisome as they aredangerousto health and can damage theheart, kidneys, liver, circulatory system and centralnervous system.Besides polluting the water, they reach humans viathe food chain, when humans consume fish andother sea-food. If the fishsurvivethat is! Becausehundreds of fish are found dead after theimmersions.The picture on the right is of a beach right after an immersion and that is what the tide has brought in. The site from where I took the photo has other very vivid pictures…if you want tosee them just click on the picture.
If people don’t listen, we need the laws
The problem is that politicians don’t want to take tough action as they are afraid of upsettingthe public as this is a religious issue. But I think it isn’t. Traditionally, weusedmud idols andnatural colours.
These polluting idols are a modern invention and nothing to do with religion!
 
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 No one is banning immersion. Or denouncing it. To put in place laws to make it compulsoryto make idols out of an eco-friendly material should not hurt religious sentiment. All we will be doing is going back to the way the festival was traditionally celebrated. An informationcampaign to this effect will go a long way in educating those who think that using poisonousmaterials are what God commanded or that this was how it was traditionally done. I am surethat a public information campaign which enumerates the amount of life that is destroyed willimpact a lot of people as quite a few Hindus are vegetarians who are against killing of animals even for food.I wonder if it is a powerful lobby of businessmen and those in the trade of manufacturing andselling these poisonous idols who are making the politicians drag their feet on this one.Because in this case it is only the politicians who can help us - with laws.Firecracker Concerns Nowadays there is a significant growth in campaigns on creating awareness over the adverseimpacts of noise and air pollution. Some governments drive to keep the festival less noisy and pollution-free. The Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board has banned production of crackerswith noise levels of over 125 decibels.[16] In survey of UP Pollution Control Board, it wasrevealed that the emission of smoke was found more in the light illuminating fire crackers.Levels of SO2 (Sulphur dioxide) and RSPM (respirable suspended particulate matter) wasfound marginally higher on Diwali day. Crackers, which use large quantities of sulphur and paper, spew out sulphur dioxide and charcoal into the air, also lead and other metallicsubstances are suspended in the air causing respiratory problems.[17] Considering these facts, bursting of crackers is prohibited in silent zones i.e. near hospitals, schools and courts.Major recent developments around the countryIn September 2001, the Supreme Court passed orders seeking adherence to anti- noise pollution norms and standards for fire crackers before the festival season.

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