Demanding a complete ban on idols made of plaster of Paris (PoP), a Pune-based student and activist has filed an application before the National Green Tribunal against the Maharashtra and Gujarat Poll
Demanding a complete ban on idols made of plaster of Paris (PoP), a Pune-based student and activist has filed an application before the National Green Tribunal against the Maharashtra and Gujarat Pollution Control Board, stating that the material is insidious to the environment.
The petition said that the respondents were aware that PoP was harmful to environment, yet they had not enforced a ban. It further stated the respondents had only issued guidelines about the pollution caused by PoP and its chemicals but have not banned it.
The other respondents in the case are Central Pollution Control Board, Union ministry of environment, forest and climate change, state ministry for environment and forest, Raigad and Pen municipalities.
The activist, Aditya Gujrathi, said, “Fresh water and marine water get polluted owing to uncontrolled and uninspected use of harmful chemicals such as plaster of Paris, synthetic paints, artificial colours, dyes containing mercury, chromium, arsenic, copper, lead, nickel, among others. These are used while making the idols of Ganpati, Durga and models of
Taziya. These when immersed in water cause irreversible damage to water bodies. This is a violation of the water act.”
The applicant further stated, “I am told by artisans that 90 per cent of idols are made of PoP, which is a hazardous pollutant as per the Environment Act 1986. MPCB has accepted that PoP does not dissolve in water and sink to the bottom. It takes several years to disintegrate.”
“Most of the water bodies used to immerse idols are also used for irrigation purposes. These harmful chemicals are then absorbed by plants and animals. Thus these toxic chemicals enter into our food chain posing a threat to animals, people and plants,” he added.
“The Centre has already sanctioned Rs 900 and Rs 1,300 crore to clean Mula and Mutha rivers in Nagpur. Instead, the government can take preventive measures to stop rivers from getting polluted by PoP and other chemicals. The Goa government has already banned the use of PoP for making idol. Besides, Bhopal NGT has also asked Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh to ban such idols. Then why cannot the Maharashtra and Gujarat government follow this model ” he asked.
Mr Gujrathi said, “I am not against celebration of festivals but idols should be made from biodegradable and non-polluting material.”
He has also submitted various research papers to strengthen his case.