PoP idols shine bright, rubbing salt on river’s wounds

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Renuka Bisht


Puja times are pollution times in India, it seems. Through the year we see those polythene bags full of flowers, food offerings, incense residuum etc flung into our rivers and also mucking up wherever there is a peepal tree to be found, not that aam or bargad or neem or even that bougainvillea are safe.

So committed are people to this desecration that they even tear through iron barriers built across river bridges, to make sure their precious polythene bag makes a splash. I suppose the thrower thinks that when sewage, construction waste, industrial effluents, all the city’s innards are pouring into the river anyway, why shouldn’t he/she not contribute as well. Be a part of the soiling citizenry, as it were.

During big festivals, the problem gets bigger. Come Durga puja, the fight will begin to restrain the immersions at designated spots. There will be stratagems to thwart such restraints. Because some clever cookies must see their offering wreck the river where it is flowing clean and free.

This devil may care attitude means, these particular devotees also ignore all rules and regulations and common sense about organic biodegradable materials, preferring chemical paints over natural dyes, idols made of Plaster of Paris (PoP) rather than those baked out of clay. Guess tradition really isn’t that big a deal for these devotees, notwithstanding loud claims to the contrary.

During Ganeshotsav, Ritam Haldar reports how the ban on PoP idols is being openly flouted all across Delhi. PoP doesn’t dissolve easily like clay, instead it “forms a concrete-like layer on the waterbed, making it difficult for groundwater to recharge”. Then, the only paints that can be used with PoP tend to be high in poisonous chemicals and heavy metals. All told these PoP idols release an abundance of such chemicals, including lead and arsenic, into the rivers, hurting everyone in the food chain. To do this in the name of faith, is preposterous.

How green is your conscience
(Photo by SL Shanth Kumar)

DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.

via TOI Blog

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