Clay idols norm to reduce impact on Hussainsagar

Immersion of hundreds of Ganesh idols made with gypsum and painted with synthetic colours has polluted the lake

Published - August 22, 2022 08:03 pm IST - HYDERABAD

The famous Ganesh idol of Khairatabad in Hyderabad, which is made of clay for the first time in the wake of court orders.

The famous Ganesh idol of Khairatabad in Hyderabad, which is made of clay for the first time in the wake of court orders. | Photo Credit: RAMAKRISHNA G

The ecological impact on the Hussainsagar Lake is likely to be lower this year during Ganesh immersions as the Telangana High Court’s diktat on immersion of only clay idols is being obeyed. Even the tallest idol, that of Khairatabad Ganesh at 50-feet, has been moulded with clay and painted with water colours. “Except the iron frame inside, the idol is made of clay and organic material. The paints are also water-soluble,” informed Sandeep Raj, the convenor of Ganesh Utsava Samiti.

Incidentally, the cost of the idol has gone up as it is moulded with clay but it will weigh lower than the gypsum idols that has been the norm for decades. “Each bag of clay from Rajasthan is ₹ 470. Gypsum is ₹ 250. The clay is mixed with sand, hay, jute, coir and rice husk. The idol will not be affected even if there is four hours of continuous rain,” informed Sandeep Raj, who has been part of the organising committee for 50 years.

The Khairatabad Ganesh festival celebrations date back from 1954 when a 1-foot idol was installed by Singari Shankariah. Since then, the tradition has continued and the idol’s height has gone on increasing with a 61-foot idol being installed in 2019. In 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic raged in the country, the organisers installed a 9-foot idol. But the popularity has kept growing.

“Earlier, we used to cook 100-200 kilograms of rice for prasad. But now it starts at 600 kg per day and on Saturdays and Sunday we cook 1,000 or 1,200 kgs of rice. The room filled with groceries gets emptied very rapidly on those days,” says Raj Kumar, the grandson of Shankariah, who started the celebrations.

The immersion of hundreds of Ganesh idols made with gypsum and painted with synthetic colours has been tracked by the Telangana State Pollution Control Board over the past few years. In 2019, the electrical conductivity of water near the NTR Park of Hussainsagar Lake shot up from 1,172 to 1,638 µmhos/cm in a week, showing increased total dissolved solids (TDS) in the water. The TDS increased from 698 to 1,013 mg/L. The dissolved oxygen dropped from 4.1 to 3.2 mg/L. The T. Coli count surged from 420 to higher than 1600 (MPN/100 ml). With clay idols and organic colours, the impact on the lake may be lower this year.

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