14 Days to Ganeshotsav 2016: Going Green for Bappa!

Ganeshotsav is a festival that is celebrated with much fervour across the city. However, as the preparations are in full swing for the 10-day festivities, the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) and other non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are making every effort to reduce any harm that the festivities may cause to the environment.

During the visarjan or the immersion process, several devotees take to the streets carrying an idol of their beloved Bappa in their hands. The idols are mostly made from plaster of Paris (PoP) and painted with colours that contain harmful chemicals like mercury and lead in them. The PoP takes several months to dissolve and the chemicals from the paint pose as a threat to the marine ecosystem. “The PMC has constructed many immersion tanks around localities so that people don’t have to go all the way to immerse the idol in a river body. Because of creating this facility, the immersion of idols in the rivers has stopped to a great extent,” states Mangesh Dighe, Environment Officer of the PMC.

Apart from this, the idols are decorated with several other materials like thermocol, plastic and other non-biodegradable items. Along with the idol, other offerings like flowers, fruits, cloth, coconut, camphor and food are also immersed in the water body. These offerings are collectively called nirmalya. Dighe also mentions that these offerings will be collected by the PMC officials and NGOs in a collective effort to recycle them since they are biodegradable.

When it comes to making eco-friendly idols, there are many outlets like eCoexist and Ganesh Kala Kendra that make the statues from shadu or fire clay and papier-mâché instead of PoP. Idols made from these materials dissolve quicker in water and they are painted with natural colours derived from flowers. “We want to encourage more people to use idols made from shadu. We have kept workshops to teach people how to make eco-friendly idols and decorations without the use of Thermocol. We also want to make people understand the importance of reusing their idols instead of immersing it year after year,” explains Dighe.

Noise pollution is also a cause for concern as the celebrations include several people who are involved in dhol pathaks or troops, playing percussion instruments or electronic music on loudspeakers during the visarjan. The noise levels have to be within the permissible limits of the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB). The sound produced from continuously playing these instruments can be very harmful for the hearing of people nearby and hence, need to be within control.

Vijayta Lalwani

Vijayta Lalwani

The young lady from Lagos has always been keen on a career in journalism. Pune365 was hence the right stop. We agree. vijayta@pune365.com
Vijayta Lalwani