SC allows Ganesha idols’ immersion in Hyderabad's Hussainsagar lake ‘one last time’

Policemen detain the activists of a local festival-organizing body demanding that the immersion of Ganesh idols be allowed in Hussain Sagar Lake in Hyderabad, on Thursday, September 16, 2021.   | Photo Credit: AP

The Supreme Court on Thursday allowed the immersion of Ganesha idols in the Hussainsagar lake in Hyderabad city “one last time” for Vinayaka Chaturthi celebrations this year.

A three-judge Bench led by Chief Justice of India (CJI) N.V. Ramana passed the order on a petition filed by the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC). The civic body had sought a stay of a September 9 order of the Telangana High Court banning the immersion of Ganesha idols made of Plaster of Paris (PoP) in the lake.

The court said the immersion was a recurrent problem despite fears of pollution of the lake water. The government ought to have prohibited the immersion of PoP idols on its own.

The court stated that it was not supporting the government by staying the High Court order. The stay was given on the undertaking given by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for Telangana, that there would be no immersion of PoP idols from next year.

The court noted that “lakhs of people” were geared up for the celebrations this year.

“But this is the last time,” Chief Justice Ramana cautioned the State government. The court asked the government to state this assurance in an affidavit before it.

“Once upon a time, the water in the lake was used for drinking. That time passed long ago. Now, I believe, a lot of money was spent on beautification... If the water is polluted again, won’t it be a waste of the money spent on the beautification,” Chief Justice Ramana asked Mr. Mehta.

Cranes deployed

The Solicitor General said cranes have been deployed by the government to remove the immersed idols from the lake and transport them to solid waste dumping sites.

The State argued that the well-intentioned but unexpected ban on the immersion of PoP idols by the High Court would hit thousands of artisans hard. Besides, arrangements for the celebration were already well underway and the GHMC had taken precautions, including positioning cranes to pull out the idols from the lake within hours of their immersion.

The State said the immersion celebrations were due on September 18.

“The idols will be removed within 24 hours of immersion. They will be transported to solid waste dumping sites. The GHMC has also created 25 baby ponds and also distributed 50,000 small environment-friendly clay Ganesha idols…” the GHMC petition, filed through advocate Venkat Reddy, said.

The local body had pointed out that the preparations for the festival had begun in March. “The directions issued by the High Court at this point of time would cause huge public outcry and also lead to administrative difficulties,” it had stated.

“GHMC will ban the immersion of POP idols from the next year in light of the guidelines issued by Central Pollution Control Board. However, for this year the GHMC seeks an exemption,” the petition said.

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Printable version | Oct 19, 2021 5:34:47 AM |

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