TOI, 06 Sep 2012, 03:25 IST,
MUMBAI: While Mumbai's civic fathers are reluctant to take a firm stand on plaster of paris Ganesh idols, the Chandrapur and Nagpur municipal corporations have stolen a march over the financial capital. Both civic bodies recently passed resolutions banning the sale of POP idols this Ganesh festival within their municipal limits.
Former mayor Shubha Raul who campaigned extensively for an environment friendly Ganesh festival, even introducing the concept of artificial lakes for immersion so that the environmentally harmful idols are not immersed in the sea, said it was high time the government stepped in with a law to stop the use of POP idols.
"There is nothing religious about damaging the environment. We are surrounded by sea on three sides and so are highly affected by the marine environment and it is for us to protect it. It will take two decades to change people's mindset. Instead, the government must introduce a law banning such idols,'' she said. As mayor, she said, she could only petition the government to draft a law, since policy making is the government's domain.
Raul pointed out that many years ago Goa banned immersion of idols in the sea because degradation of the sea by the immersion was directly affecting tourism, its main source of income. "Even Pune does not allow immersion in water bodies so why should Mumbai do it?'' she asked adding that creating artificial lakes was expensive and it was unfortunate that only 20-30% of the idols were immersed here. Annually, over 2.5 lakh household idols are worshipped in the city during the festival, besides several thousand sarvajanik idols.
Recently, Jayant Patil, guardian minister for Mumbai city, said at a co-ordination committee meeting for the Ganesh festival that despite an awareness campaign for the last several years, mindsets had not changed much and people continued to opt for POP idols. Anil Bhatia, member of the Marine Drive Residents' Association said it was a very welcome decision and Mumbai too should do it. "It is destroying our seas and it is high time they stopped it,'' he said. Environmentalist Rishi Agarwal pointed out that a century ago, idols were made only of clay as there was no concept of POP. "No one is against the festival being celebrated. All that is required is regulating the material being used for the idols. If environment friendly materials are made mandatory, it will automatically bring down the size of the idols,'' he said.
However, idol makers in Vidarbha are unhappy that the two corporations issued the ban without giving them prior notice. "They sent us a notice last August saying they wanted to ban the POP idols and would hold a meeting to discuss the issue. In the last week of August this year, they informed us that they will not allow sale of POP idols. Many idol makers are poor and have taken loans. A ban without proper intimation is unfair and would destroy them,'' said Ankush Ayane of the Nag-Vidarbha Murtikar va Vikreta Mahasangh.