ANDHRA PRADESH

Immersion of idols threatens tank

GULBARGA Nov. 10. The release of waste water and the nonchalance of the authorities concerned to the immersion of the Ganesh and Durga idols are threatening the historical Sharanabasaveshwar Tank abutting the famous Gulbarga Fort and the Sharanabasaveshwar Temple. The tank is an important water body in the city. Thousands of borewells, which yield drinking water, are recharged because of the existence of the tank.

The efforts of the Gulbarga City Corporation to prevent the release of waste water into the tank have failed and the proposal for beautification of the tank submitted to the Union Government as part of the tourism development of Gulbarga, which was once the capital of the Bahamani Dynasty and which had witnessed several conflicts between the Muslim rulers and the Vijayanagar kingdom, is yet to see the light of the day.

A study of the quality of water in the tank near the spot where the Ganesha and Durga idols were immersed this year by the Zoology Department, Gulbarga University, revealed alarming content of high lead, nickel, and iron beyond the permissible limits, posing a serious threat to the aquatic life in the tank.

K.Vijaykumar, Reader in the Department of Zoology, who conducted the study, told The Hindu here that unless the corporation cleared the sediments of the dangerous colours used in the idols, which were immersed in the tank, the situation would worsen. The tank had witnessed fish-kill in the past two years because of contamination and high pollution, which reduced the dissolved oxygen level.

The study of the quality of water near the spot where the idols were immersed revealed that the lead content had gone up to 0.49 MGLD as against the permissible limit of 0.1 MGLD. This was because of the dissolving of paint used in the idols with the water in the tank. The biochemical oxygen demand was put between 35 MGLD as against the permissible limit of 20 MGLD. The dissolved solids in the tank during the immersion period was 50 to 400 MGLD.

The study pointed out that material used for moulding the idols included clay, bamboo, wood, straw, jute, cloth, metal, paint, and other decorative items. Along with idols, many materials such as flowers, leaves, incense sticks, and camphor were dumped in the tank. Besides clay, which caused accumulation of silt, the biodegradable and non-biodegradable materials contaminated the water.

The decomposition of the biodegradable materials in the tank resulted in higher biochemical oxygen demand and chemical oxygen demand and reduced the dissolved oxygen levels in the water. The non-biodegradable materials such as paints caused release of heavy metals in the water affecting the biotic life adversely.

Dr. Vijaykumar said the eco-system near the tank was put to strain during the festival season as the people depended solely on the tank for immersion of idols.

The authorities should prevent the immersion of idols in the tank in future to save it from extinction. Besides this, the corporation should also ensure that harmful and untreated waste water was not released into the tank keeping in mind the general health of the citizens.

Already, the borewells in the vicinity of the tank were discharging contaminated water, which had a foul smell and high content of harmful materials.

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