NGT horrified at Yamuna’s Ganesh pollution, helpless?

NGT horrified at Yamuna’s Ganesh pollution, helpless?

New Delhi, Sep 20:  The Yamuna is choked with Ganesh idols, but the government will sit quiet while ‘devotees’ flout rules and poison their holy rivers. Incredible India indeed! Is the green tribunal crying crocodile tears?

Troubled by the unedifying spectacle of hundreds of Ganesha idols littering the Yamuna, the National Green Tribunal today sought responses from the Delhi government and others on the issue.

A plea highlighting the plight of the river which has been almost completely choked due to the immersion of idols during the festivals prompted the NGT action.

Pollution in the name of ‘religious tradition’

Thousands of broken or semi-dissoved idols of Ganesha (the elephant god) made of plaster of paris and coated with toxic chemicals such as mercury, cadmium, lead and carbon were immersed in the Yamuna on the occasion of Ganesh Chaturthi which commenced late last month.

A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar issued notices to the AAP government, Delhi Jal Board, Delhi Development Authority and others while asking them to file action taken reports after the Ganesh Chaturthi festival.

Advocate Sanjay Upadhyaya, appearing for the petitioner in the case, said that despite Central Pollution Control Board 2010 Guidelines on idol immersion and the specific ban by the tribunal on immersion of non-biodegradable idols, there has been a complete failure on part of the authorities.

The green panel was hearing a plea filed by environment activist Akash Vashishta seeking directions to immediately take steps to clean up the banks of the river which is completely choked with waste dumped in it.

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Referring to a media report, the plea said due to the immersion of idols and ‘pooja’ material, the river has virtually turned into a drain.

The biological oxygen demand (BOD) of the river, a measure of organic pollution, has reached “dangerously high levels” during Ganesh Chaturthi, the plea said.

“It is humbly submitted that the river is already dying a slow death and the continuous and unabated immersion of idol into the river, causing complete choking of the river turning it into virtual dumpyards of waste,” the plea, filed through advocate Upama Bhattacharjee, said.

It has sought directions to completely prohibit dumping of waste and an action plan with respect to dealing with idol immersions in the light of the forthcoming Durga Puja festival in the entire NCR region.

The tribunal in 2015 had passed a slew of directions to prevent pollution of the Yamuna, including a ban on immersion of idols except those made from bio-degradable material.

“Idol immersion should be allowed only of the ones which are made from bio-degradable material and not plastic/plaster of Paris. Only those colours should be used on the idols which are environment-friendly,” the bench had then said.

Well, with the Modi government blithely encouraging ‘godmen’ like Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and others to pollute the river at will, will it really crack the whip and lay down the law? Wishful thinking, say many observers.

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