No lessons learnt: immersion remains choke Yamuna again

The government agencies in the Capital have failed the Yamuna yet again with tonnes of toxic and non-biodegradable waste choking the river post Durga idol immersions on Saturday and Sunday.

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) had issued a strict order in September following a story by The Hindu on the state of the river banks after the Ganesh idol immersions across the city. However, almost over two weeks after Ganesh Chaturthi, no visible change was seen at the ghats.

Idols don’t dissolve

On the banks of south Delhi’s Kalindi Kunj ghat and north Delhi’s Nigam Bodh ghat, partially submerged idols of Durga, most of them made of Plaster of Paris (POP) were found on Sunday. The river also saw a sea of floating plastic bags with glass bangles, flower petals and other decorations made of metal and plastic.

No lessons learnt: immersion remains choke Yamuna again

Hans Raj (35), a lifeguard who was seen clearing the remains on the banks, said: “Idols made of POP do not dissolve in water unlike those made from mud. We also find it difficult to pull them out because the broken idols pierce our hands and feet and often cause grievous injuries,” Mr. Raj said.

The NGT had in 2015 put a complete ban on the use of POP and paints with high levels of lead in idols, which are known to cause serious damage to the soil and water of the ecologically-sensitive area.

Guidelines ignored

Guidelines issued by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) in 2010 and by the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) have largely gone unheeded.

Sanjay Upadhyay, a senior environment lawyer, had brought the issue of pollution after immersion of idols in Yamuna before the NGT in September.

He had made a special appeal before the court that a detailed action plan be filed by agencies — Delhi Development Authority, Delhi Jal Board, the three civic bodies (east, south and north) and the Delhi government —on how they will tackle the high influx of devotees into the ghat and check the pollution.

“Durga Puja witnessed more attendance and the numbers of idols that are immersed are also higher than during Ganesh Chaturthi. We had asked the court to ask what plan the authorities have for these immersions and what they are doing to check that POP idols do not go into and stay in the river,” Mr. Upadhyay said.

Officials from the Delhi Police, which is responsible for ensuring safety of devotees during immersions, said idols are immersed from over 200 Durga Puja pandals across the city.

‘Cleaning started’

Devotees who setup idols at homes also come for immersions. There are four major ghats in Delhi — Kalindi Kunj, Geeta Ghat, Kudsia Ghat and Ram Ghat.

Officials from the south and north Delhi municipal corporations said that cleaning of the ghats had started early Sunday morning.

“The cleaning of the ghats was under progress throughout Sunday. We will make sure that the banks and the water are clean and that no trace of the idols are found,” said a senior official of the SDMC.

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Printable version | Apr 12, 2021 1:21:33 AM |

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