HC bans immersion of idols in Ganga, Yamuna

UP court order meant to tackle river pollution in state

The Allahabad High Court on Monday put a ban on the immersion of idols of Gods and Goddesses in Ganga and Yamuna rivers in Uttar Pradesh.

The court also dismissed the plea of the state government that the idols would be immersed and then fished out. The HC bench of Justice Ashok Bhushan and Justice Arun Tandon asked the state government to ensure a blanket ban on immersion of idols.The court gave these directives while hearing a petition on Ganga pollution.

During the hearing, the counsel of the petitioner Sudhanshu Srivastava informed the court that the district administration, despite several reminders, had failed to make adequate alternative arrangements for the immersion of idols in Ganga.

The counsel of the state government while admitting this requested the bench to allow the immersion of idols this season and that they would be taken out immediately. 

The court, however, refused to yield and asked the state government to also ensure that within a year, the rivers of the state are free from any immersion activity. The court had earlier asked the UP State Pollution Control Board to monitor the water quality before and after the immersion of idols.

The report submitted before the court had revealed that the water quality had suffered immensely after the immersion of idols. Rivers in the state are used for thrice for immersion – first at the end of the Ganpati festival and then twice after Navratra’s.

Activists happy

The Allahabad High Court order asking the Uttar Pradesh government to ban immersion of idols in the Yamuna and Ganges rivers has been widely welcomed by eco-activists in Agra.

The activists have been demonstrating and presenting memorandums to the district authorities and the UP State Pollution Control Board to restrict immersion of Ganesh and Durga idols in the Yamuna, but for want of clear directives from the government, and afraid of inviting religious backlash, the agencies chose to look the other way.

Shishir Bhagat, president of Wake Up Agra said: “The court has come to our rescue. Better late than never. The idols of gods and goddesses these days are made of toxic and polluting materials using plastic colours that do not easily dissolve. Yamuna, which is already highly polluted, should not be allowed to be subjected to further assaults.”

Heritage Society’s Shravan Kumar Singh said, “Our facebook campaign has finally yielded results. It is a much welcomed step and has the support of all nature-friendly people in the city.”

Ashok Jain, president Agra Vikas Manch, said his organisation would provide two big trenches at the Yamuna ghat where the idols could be immersed. “The puja samigri which is bio-degradable would be collected in another pit and used as manure in course of time,” he said.

Religious leaders have also come out in support of the ban.

“The right thing would be to use a bucket of water at home to immerse the idol and then use the water in the garden,” Pandit Mahesh Chandra Sharma said.

The recent trend of installing idols by individual families, instead of collective worship, has compounded the problem.

“Earlier, these festivals were collectively celebrated by the whole community, but now every family has its own Ganesha or Durga idol which have to be immersed in a water body,” said home-maker Padmini.

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