Environmentalist wants high power committee to be set up to monitor immersions

The National Green Tribunal has issued a notice to the Ministry of Environment and Forest and Ministry of Water Resources regarding immersions of idols in rivers and water bodies of the country.

This follows a petition filed to the Tribunal by city-based environmentalist Subhas Datta demanding a “uniform, practical, pragmatic” and well-accepted “standard operating procedure” for immersions.

“The entire stretch of the river Ganga from its origin to estuary is a “concern for all” and therefore the immersion of idols in the river should be looked into by an apex body like the National Green Tribunal,” he told The Hindu here on Friday.

Referring to a recent order passed by the Allahabad High Court, which has clamped a “complete ban on immersion of idols in Ganga”, Mr. Datta questioned in his petition how the practice can be allowed in West Bengal where the number of immersions is much higher than in Uttar Pradesh.

The activist, whose public interest litigation before the Calcutta High Court in 2000 led it to issuing directives for immersion of idols, said in his petition that the “ritual part of immersion is at the place of worship.”

“Holding immersion processes and throwing idols in rivers and water bodies have become, superfluous, colourful, competitive, not backed by religious necessity,” the petition said.

Stating that unless a uniform policy is framed to save the Ganga, no purpose would be served by taking up steps in a particular stretch of rivers, Mr. Datta has sought “high powered committee” to be set up so that immersions in the country can be monitored. He has also suggested that while coming up with a standard operating procedure for immersion of idols, opinions and suggestions from religious gurus, environmental experts, social activists and scientists be taken.

According to the city police, there were 2,700 community puja pandals in the city on the occasion of Durga Puja last month and idols from these places were immersed in the river and other water bodies of the city.