City witnesses its most green Ganesh Chaturthi till date

Environmental hazard: Idols made of plaster of Paris have remained a concern as they have non-degradable, tends to clog waterbodies and often leaches toxic paints into lakes.   | Photo Credit: K_MURALI_KUMAR

The city just celebrated its most “eco-friendly” Ganesh Chaturthi as the final figures show that less than 5% of the idols immersed were made of plaster of Paris.

After nine days of immersion, the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) notes that over 3.48 lakh idols were immersed in lakes and mobile tanks. Of these, 16,353 idols were made of PoP, which has been banned in the State by KSPCB.

POP idols have remained a concern as they have non-degradable, tends to clog waterbodies and often leaches toxic paints into lakes. Despite a ban last year, nearly a third of idols immersed were calculated to be made of PoP. Over 30,000 such PoP idols had been manufactured and stored in the State then.

Dramatic fall

The numbers, this year, reflect a dramatic fall in use of such idols, said KSPCB chairman Lakshman. “This is a result of outreach and awareness programmes by the board as well as other civic agencies. Next year, we expect even lesser or completely eco-friendly celebrations,” he said.

Considering that a ban on PoP is in place, the more than 16,000 PoP idols that were immersed could have been from old stock, smuggled illegally from the border, or made in illegal units, said Mr. Lakshman.

Handling waste

Sarfaraz Khan, Joint Commissioner (Solid Waste Management), said preparations for handling waste during the festivities started nearly six months ago with coordination and strategy meetings.

“Teams of between 8 to 10 volunteers had been posted at immersion points to tabulate the number of idols, particularly PoP idols. They also ensured that waste did not end up in lakes and were immediately collected,” he said. Apart from keeping a count, these volunteers, led by the area councillor, removed flowers and organic waste, and packaging waste from the idols, Mr. Khan said.

The festivities have generated between 400 to 440 tonnes of garbage. Much of this is in the form of plantain leaves and flowers, which were composted. While some PoP waste ends up in landfills, some may be sent to Rock Crystals, a recycling unit at Chikkajala, where it will be crushed to extract gypsum.

Last year, 40 tonnes of PoP idols were sent for recycling. “We expect a lesser amount considering the good work done by civic agencies this time. Much of the PoP idols is hollow or coir, and the amount of gypsum is very little,” said Rajesh Korah, partner, Rock Crystals.

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Printable version | Sep 26, 2021 6:05:24 AM |

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