The filth after immersion

The filth after immersion

Polluted lakes

The filth after immersion

Idol immersion during Ganesha Habba is a big affair. Despite efforts by Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) and Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) to prevent polluting the City’s water bodies with synthetic painted idols, flowers, banners and garlands, the City lakes and its surroundings remain choked with garbage and debris left behind after the immersions.

The major immersions across the City were held on September 13 and 14 and according to the law and order wing of the police, not less than 600 idols, both small and big, were immersed over these two days in the lakes that were specifically demarcated for immersion purposes. But what continues to remain year after year is the debris in many of the lakes that remain uncleared at least for a day. Immersed idols have been taken out, piled on top of the other and stacked away in a corner.

The BBMP had identified and demarcated 100 lakes for immersion purpose. Some of these lakes are Allasandra in Yelahanka and Sankey Tank, as well as lakes in Lalbagh, Varthur, Ulsoor, Yediyur and Hebbal, to mention a few. When asked about the uncleared idols, commissioner of the BBMP, Lakshminarayana explains, “Garbage and debris have been regularly cleared in the morning and evening around lakes for the last one week, especially on immersion days. We have plugged in additional manpower and machinery to ensure that garbage is cleared and the City is kept clean.” Lakshminarayana feels people can play an important part by ensuring that they dispose of garlands and other related debris in the demarcated area rather than scatter them across the lakes. People are insensitive to the whole issue,” he states. Lakshminarayana observes that the maximum number of immersions took place at Ulsoor, Yediyur, Sankey Tank, Yelahanka and Bommanahalli.

According to officials of the KSPCB, idol immersion during festivals like Ganesha Habba continues to leave the lakes polluted. There are 50 per cent paint-less Ganesha idols this season. However, people don’t understand the importance of pollution and continue to buy the coloured Ganeshas that are made from chemical dyes and metallic paste. “There’s a lot of iron content in the clay, which is used to make the idols. We had also asked people to refrain from using plaster of Paris as it does not dissolve fast. But it looks like none of these guidelines have been followed. The chemical dyes and metallic paste being used to colour the idols contain poisonous elements. Particularly red, blue, orange and green dyes contain mercury, zinc oxide, chromium and lead,” a senior officer with KSPCB points out.

People feel despite a lot of awareness programmes, the lakes continue to remain polluted. Sreelakshmi, an IT professional states, “People must start immersing the idols in their own backyard. But there’s so much sentiment attached to the festival that people continue to immerse the idols in the lakes. If the cleaning is also carried out simultaneously, then the lakes wouldn’t be this polluted.”

Khan is a rag picker who moves around most of the lakes during Ganesha and collects of the leftover wooden pieces and idols.

“This not only helps clear the debris but I sell these wooden pieces for Rs 5,000 a bag in the City Market. It’s good money,” he states.