The use of paint with toxic chemicals on clay idols will be banned in West Bengal from next year. The decision has been taken by the West Bengal Pollution Control Board (WBPCB) that concluded that toxic chemicals used in the paints are insoluble once the statues are immersed in the waters at the completion of a puja festival.
“The toxic paint applied on the statues is insoluble in water. Hence, it remains in the riverbed along with the sediments, and can be transmitted to aquatic plants like algae, which is consumed by aquatic animals. Since our food chain is closely connected, the chemicals will affect human beings as well,” Binoy Kanti Dutta, WBPCB Chairman, told The Hindu here on Wednesday.
To make the artisans who create the idols aware of the hazards of the use of toxic paint, the WBPCB conducted workshops and distributed 1,200 litres of organic paints to over 100 artists earlier last month. Artisans and puja organisers were asked to use lead-free paints. “The cost difference between the organic and toxic paint isn’t huge. It will cost the artist around Rs. 30 extra, but will save the eco-system,” he said.
On keeping the Ganga, where the idols of gods and goddesses are immersed, free of pollutants, he said: “We have special guidelines related to the immersion. The basic structure of idols contains hay, which, if not removed within 24 hours of immersion, will decompose and pollute the water, so we have instructed all the organisers to remove the hay before immersing the statues in the river.”
To check air-pollution during the Durga Puja season, the WBPCB has arranged for mobile vans to monitor the air quality in the city.
“The three basic parameters that we will monitor will be the amount of inhalable particulate material, sulphur dioxide, and nitrogen dioxide present in the air at different locations of the city,” he added.