Water quality in Karamana river, Shanghumughom to be checked

For the first time since Ganesh Chathurthi celebrations began in the capital, the State Pollution Control Board (PCB) will monitor the impact of immersion of the idols, mostly made of Plaster of Paris, on the city’s waterbodies.

The decision to monitor the water quality, before and after the immersion, comes in the wake of recent circulars from the Central Pollution Control Board, issued primarily for cities where Ganesh immersion is on a much larger scale but to be adhered to by all areas where immersion takes place.

Thiruvananthapuram, or for that matter, other cities and towns in the State, are yet to reach anywhere near the scale of celebrations, and the number of idols that are immersed in waterbodies, witnessed in other cities, including Kolkata, Mumbai or Hyderabad.

Campaigns

The massive celebrations in those cities have seen campaigns, including from the government, PCBs and local governing bodies, for use of clay idols following the realisation that Plaster of Paris idols and the chemical, toxic, lead-laden paints used for colouring the idols were causing severe pollution of the waterbodies they were immersed in. “Here, the threat is not that big, but still, we have decided to start monitoring the impact,” State PCB officials said.

According to K. Sajeevan, Chairman, Kerala State Pollution Control Board, plans were afoot to hold discussions with the organisations that were involved in the celebrations, chalk out an action plan and if need be, launch awareness campaigns in due course of time.

S. Sudheer Babu, Chief Environmental Engineer, PCB, told The Hindu that the Board had decided to monitor the water quality in the Karamana River and at Shanghumughom before and after immersion. The future course of action would depend on the results, he said.

The Central PCB’s guidelines, posted on the CPCB website, also state that ‘it would be appropriate to use traditional clay for idol-making rather than baked clay.’

Some of the other stipulations are as follows: Use of painted idols should be discouraged. In case painted idols are used, water-soluble and non-toxic natural dyes may be used. Use of toxic and non-degradable chemical dyes should be strictly prohibited. Natural colours used in food products and permitted in pharmaceuticals may be preferred.

In the case of idol immersion in the sea, the guidelines state that immersion may be done beyond 500 meters of low-tide line. More importantly, the CPCB states that within 24 hours of the immersion of idols, the leftover material should be collected by local bodies and disposed of and that people should be encouraged to go for smaller idols.