Green Ganesh Chaturthi in Goa

Ganesha's idol and flowers

Aggressive campaigning and lobbying with civic authorities in Panaji by a group of green activists has ensured that a significant volume of nirmalya - floral offerings made to Lord Ganesh in course of the festivity - will be converted to compost and not dumped into the Mandovi river, which skirts the state capital.

"We are proud to be a part of this initiative. The compost generated from the nirmalya will be used in our corporation's gardens and parks as manure," Elvis Gomes. civic commissioner of Panaji, said.

A care would be taken to ensure that the composting of nirmalya would be done in separate pits, considering the religious sentiments attached to the offerings, he said.

Gomes said the mud oven-baked nirmalya pots, procured by the civic body, would be placed at high-visibility locations at various idol immersion points throughout the city, so that people could utilise the opportunity of doing a unique green deed this Ganesh festival.

"The move was a result of several suggestions made to us by civil society groups. We are taking every step possible to make Ganesh Chaturthi eco-friendly," he said.

Arati Das, who writes on green issues in Goa and is a part of the Green Chaturthi campaign, said: "The mud pots will certainly curtail water pollution, because earlier people had no option but to dump the heaps of nirmalya into the Mandovi river."

"We have also started an online campaign which is aimed at educating people on the importance of celebrating a green Chaturthi in these environmentally challenging times," Das said.

The campaign involves emails, Facebook causes, lobbying with government officials and informing people who matter about the importance of an eco-friendly Ganesh Chaturthi.
Another thrust of the online campaign is to create public opinion against the use of plaster of paris (PoP) idols, which although banned in the state, continue to have a market because they are comparatively cheap and have better finishing.

"Unlike clay idols that dissolve in water instantly, PoP contains gypsum, sulphur, phosphorus and magnesium floats, disintegrates slowly and in the process poisons the waters of lakes, ponds, rivers and seas," said Tallulah D'Silva, also a part of the Green Chaturthi endeavour.

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