Rationalist activists of Humanist and Rationalist Organisation (HRO) in Berhampur of Odisha have approached the administration to initiate measures to check pollution of water bodies because of immersion of large idols during the coming festivals.
According to the HRO, in a perennially water-scarce city like Berhampur, water bodies should not be polluted this year, when rainfall is too low this year. A delegation of HRO has met the Berhampur sub-collector with suggestions to check pollution of water bodies due to immersion of large idols. Secretary of HRO, K. N. Senapati expressed concern over rising number of large idols being worshipped at pandals during festivals in weeks that include Vishwakarma puja, Ganesh puja, Durga puja, Kali puja.
As per the HRO, earlier idols were made of clay and eco-friendly paints. Now, plaster of Paris and chemical paints containing heavy metals like lead, manganese, mercury etc are being used. Berhampur has no river near it. So, the large idols are immersed in the two small canals that pass by the city as well as the ponds and reservoirs inside it. Due to low rainfall most of these water bodies do not have much water. So, it is feared that immersion of large idols would pollute them immensely.
The HRO demanded the administration to implement directives of the Central Pollution Control Board regarding immersion of idols in Berhampur, which have been already implemented in Maharashtra, Gujarat and Karnataka. They want the administration to come up with restrictions on the size of idols that will be installed in puja pandals and a complete ban on use of non-biodegradable materials for construction of these idols.