If you think flowers offered to God are sacred read this. The flowers are sprayed with 280 different types of chemicals, of which 80 are banned by the World Health Organisation (WHO), due to their hazardous content. Chemicals used to grow flowers are harmful for the soil.
“With the BBMP batting for mandatory segregation of garbage at its source from October 1, there is a need for temples to segregate flowers from the waste they generate,” opines environmentalist A N Yellappa Reddy.
According to Reddy, florists and floriculturists use 280 varieties of chemicals to keep flowers fresh and prevent attack from pests. Out of these, the WHO has banned 80 chemicals as they are not safe for humans, birds and should not mix with the air. “Once the flowers are removed from idols in temples, they are mixed with other waste. Flowers containing chemicals are hazardous. When finally dumped at landfill sites, it has an impact on the soil too,” he said.
Reddy explained there is a need to segregate flower waste from other waste. “Each temple should have three different bins—wet, dry and another for flowers. As we cannot extract chemicals from flowers, it is difficult to treat flowers as waste. It is better the flower waste is burnt,” he said.
Reddy suggested that lemons used in temples should also be segregated.
“Lemons contain citrus which can be used as detergent. If we segregate waste generated from temples, around 50 truck loads of garbage can be avoided,” he said.
At Banashankari Temple, devotees cut lemons, remove the juice and light lamps with ghee. On an average, at least 700 lemons are lit in the temple. A staff from this temple said they generate at least a truck load of flowers, leaves and lemons on Tuesday and Friday.
“We want this waste to be converted into useful products. But devotees oppose this suggestion. There is a need to educate devotees,” a staff member said.
Srivatsa, president, Karnataka State Muzrai Temples Archaka and Employees Association, said there are 34,225 temples in the state of which 1,063 temples are in Bangalore alone.
“We give away the flowers adorned on idols to devotees. However, on some days, around two kg of flowers will remain. At such times, we dig pits on the temple premises and store the flowers.”