Polluted Yamuna gasps as idols are immersed

Hundreds of idols of Goddess Durga were immersed in Yamuna river on Wednesday from a bank near a bird sanctuary and park in the Capital, choking the dying river further and raising concerns over upsetting the area’s ecological balance.

Since afternoon of Mahadashami — the final day of the five-day Durga Puja — more than 100 trucks packed with devotees had lined up along the river bank in Kalindi Kunj to immerse idols of Goddesses Durga, Laxmi and Saraswati, and Lords Ganesha and Kartik.

The clay idols were being towed towards the river by three cranes at strategic locations on the river’s edge. Drum beats and cries of “Jai Mata Di” filled the air.

Several checks such as recycling projects and removal of polluting waste from the clay idols had been put into place to stop the flow of effluents into the river. But nothing seemed enough.

Kalindi Kunj is near a bird sanctuary and a park full of trees overlooking a river choking with chemical foam and sedimented islets. At least 200 idols were immersed from Kalindi Kunj. The Capital has three more such immersion sites for 760 registered Goddess Durga idols — Geeta Ghat, Kudsia Ghat and Jagatpur.

“Multiply the 760 with four idols of Goddess Durga’s children and you have nearly 3,000 idols going into the river in a day,” said Madhumita Puri, who collects ceremonial flowers from the sites under a ‘Trash to Cash’ recycling project.

“This year, the administration has erected two enclosures to collect floral and non-biodegradable waste for recycling,” said Arun Chowdhury Thakur, a member of Mayur Vihar Phase-3 Durga Puja committee. He pointed to a red marquee along an elevated ledge on the bank littered with rotting flowers and ritual waste. “We are not eco-friendly.

We immerse the idol as it is with the bamboo frame. This has been the tradition for 13 years,” he said.

N K Thakur of Palam Vihar Durga Puja committee said, “Something must be done to save the river.”

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